H1 2009: De Post-La Poste limits damage of the crisis

The economic crisis has had a clear impact on De Post-La Poste’s results in the first six months of 2009, but operating costs have been reduced further to limit the damage. As a result of these savings, EBIT of H1 2009 was maintained at the H1 2008 level.

The Belgian postal operator saw revenues decline by 1.5% to €1.11 billion from January-June 2009. The decline was the result of a 4.5% fall in volumes, partly compensated by higher tariffs and commercial initiatives.

Reported operating profits rose strongly to €257 million from €140 million last year. However, this included a one-off positive effect of €117 million resulting from the transfer of health-related pension costs to a separate fund. The underlying operating profits improved slightly to €139 million from €135 million last year. The pre-tax net profit dropped 8% to €143 million while the net profit rose strongly to €220 million from €103 million.

‘De Post-La Poste is feeling the effects of the crisis too,’ says Johnny Thijs, CEO of De Post-La Poste. ‘Volumes fell in the first two quarters by about 4.5%. Fortunately we were able to limit the damage by driving down our operating costs further. Our ambition for 2009 continues to be to achieve the same operating profit as we did in 2008.’

In his internal statement to employees, Johnny Thijs added that ‘cost reductions need to be stepped up further, because we also expect volumes to continue to fall in 2010’.

Johnny Thijs pointed out that the crisis puts extra pressure on De Post-La Poste, which is preparing assiduously for full liberalisation in 2011: the market will be completely open within less than 18 months. ‘I assume that the government will set the rules soon and that a level playing field will be guaranteed, in line with the government’s decision of December 2008.’

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