Parcels rebound helps La Poste to “stable” growth

A resurgent mail order sector and booming e-commerce has helped La Poste to post overall growth in its profits for the whole of 2010. The French postal operator said its growth had resumed despite continuing declines in mail volumes, with a 2% increase in its turnover for the year, to 20.9bn euros.

Overall operating expenses were up by 170m euros, about 2.4% of turnover, including a 0.6% increase in staff wages.

Operating profit was 784m euros, up 3.6% on 2009’s 757m profit and a turnaround from the 15% drop in profits posted in its previous annual financial report.

Expectations of the board was for a similar profit level, above 3%, to continue through 2011.

La Poste chairman Jean-Paul Bailly thanked staff for their “strong commitment” to their work, to customer service and modernization at the Group, announcing a 245 euro bonus for each employee regardless of position.

Mail and parcels

A significant factor in the company’s “stable” financial situation was a booming trade in parcels, both on the express side with La Poste’s GeoPost unit and its domestic parcels service ColiPoste.

Geopost express services in France and Europe saw a 7.3% increase in turnover, its parent company reported.

An impressive 9.8% growth in volumes was particularly fed by demand in Germany, the United Kingdom and France itself,
although the overall 4.8bn euro turnover was hampered to some extent by downward pressure on prices, with La Poste pointing out that the express parcels segment was “a highly competitive market”.

La Poste’s ColiPoste unit, which delivers parcels up to 30kg in weight to French homes, saw a 4% increase in turnover, to 1.4bn euros, with a 2.7% increase in volumes that the company stated had benefited from the rebounding mail order industry and e-commerce, which has seen a 11% growth rate.

The company said last week that the decline in its mail volumes had slowed compared to 2009, with the 3.5% reduction in volume an improvement on the 5% drop the previous year, but La Poste said it expected continuing declines through 2011.

La Poste’s mail services posted a 1.2% decrease in turnover, to 11.5bn euros for the full fiscal year, with a 6.7% decline in individual letter volumes, a 4% decrease in periodicals and 0.8% decrease in direct mail volumes.


Retail services, at La Poste’s network of 17,079 post offices and partner retail counters, also saw a drop in turnover, of 2.3% to 2.4bn euros.

Despite the difficult retail environment, French post offices continued on a process of modernization – part of La Poste’s 1.06bn euro investment programme for the year – with customer waiting times continuing to drop, from an average of six minutes 50 seconds at the end of 2008 to three minutes 20 seconds at the end of 2010.

Counteracting the difficult retail environment, La Poste reported some good performances at its Postal Bank, where 10m customers now have active accounts. The 2010 year saw a 6.2bn euro increase in customer deposits, with a net banking income of 5.2bn (up 3.9% on 2009).

The Postal Bank – La Banque Postale – also boasted 6.1bn loans to customers, and 10bn mortgage agreements, with expectations that new products including a general insurance product and the launch of consumer credit products will prove promising for 2011.

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