Royal Mail apologies for delays but keeps on 10,000 'flexible' workers

The chairman of Royal Mail has apologised for gaps in service over the festive period, as parcel carriers faced their busiest ever winter.

In the first nine months of its financial year, Royal Mail said the number of parcels it delivered rose by 31 per cent to 1.3 billion, while addressed letter volumes fell 23 per cent to just under 5.7 billion.
In the first nine months of its financial year, Royal Mail said the number of parcels it delivered rose by 31 per cent to 1.3 billion, while addressed letter volumes fell 23 per cent to just under 5.7 billion.

The stock market listed company also said it was retaining about 10,000 of the 33,000 temporary workers who helped it out over the frantic Christmas season.

At its peak, the business carried 11.7 million parcels in one day – almost a third more than during the peak of the spring 2020 lockdown. That was part of the 496 million parcels delivered over the last three months of 2020 – marking an all-time high for Royal Mail.

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Chairman Keith Williams told investors: “Given these record volumes, we recognise that at times our service during the period was not always as we would have wished.

“But, thanks to the efforts of our team, the retention of around 10,000 of the 33,000 flexible workers from the Christmas peak, and the introduction of new processes, we have been making encouraging progress.

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“We are resolutely focused on delivering a comprehensive service despite the challenging circumstances.”

Royal Mail now expects to make an operating profit “well in excess” of £500 million in the financial year ending in March.

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Revenue in the first nine months of the financial year hit £9.3 billion, a rise of nearly 14 per cent.

The number of parcels the firm delivered rose by 31 per cent to 1.3 billion, while addressed letter volumes fell 23 per cent to just under 5.7 billion.

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Julie Palmer, a partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Royal Mail remains one of the largest couriers in the UK and has shown its willing to innovate and reshape itself to meet the new demands of its customers.

“The introduction of parcel hubs will add greater efficiency and help to offset the drop in letter volumes, while potential new contracts from the growth in e-commerce could help to keep the business on track.”

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Royal Mail said the third quarter had been driven by Christmas and Black Friday, and that tighter Covid-19 restrictions in November and December had made people shop online more.

So far in January, the company’s parcel wing is still performing well, seeing growth of 37 per cent.

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