Britain's ‘milkmen’, the doughty daily deliverers of milk to the nation’s housewives – and according to legions of leering comics such as Benny Hill, much, much more – are set to extend their activities to mail.

The delivery of household mail and small packages, for long the monopoly of the Royal Mail, was theoretically dismantled last year under a European initiative to liberalise postal services. In 2002 Express Dairies, among other operators, was granted a trial twelve-month licence and currently delivers over 88,000 items weekly.

So successful has this been that Postcom, the government-appointed postal services watchdog, has extended Express Dairies’ licence to a new seven year period – and upped its maximum volume tenfold to 46 million items annually.

These currently include books, CDs, contact lens, magazines and direct mail. The volume and range is now expected to soar, according to ED director Tim Smith: “We have taken the concept of delivering parcels and packets from businesses to households by our dedicated roundstaff and proved that it works,” he said.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff