The week that was: 24 August, 2012

Rounding up the biggest stories of the week in the mail and express sector, from the pages of Post&Parcel, with USPS retail plans approved, Canada Post seeking a new business model and India Post upgrading its sorting centres…

US regulators back USPS plan to cut rural post office hours

US regulators said the Postal Service’s plan to reduce working hours at thousands of rural post offices was a “significant improvement” over previous plans to shut 3,700 post offices.

The Postal Regulatory Commission issued its Advisory Opinion commending the Postal Service “for maintaining its current retail presence, especially in remote areas”. However, the Commission’s Chairman, Ruth Goldway, expressed concerns that in cutting post office hours to as little as two hours per day, the Postal Service could find it difficult to find qualified staff willing to work such short hours.

The so-called “POStPlan” will see operating hours for postal counters curtailed at more than 13,000 rural post offices, with post offices finding their working day cut from eight hours to six, four or two hours of operation each day.

GeoPost invests in UK-based ecommerce shipping specialist

La Poste’s GeoPost group acquired a stake in UK-based cross-border ecommerce shipping company Worldnet Direct.

Worldnet Direct, which has spun out of the UK division of US shipping company Worldnet Shipping this year, providing international delivery specifically tailored for ecommerce.

It will continue to operate as a standalone business following the deal, but Worldnet international ecommerce services will now be available through GeoPost’s two UK brands, DPD UK and Interlink Express. Over time, the model will extend to the rest of Europe, the company said.

EU restarts clock on UPS-TNT Express investigation

The European Commission confirmed that its review of the proposed acquisition of UPS by TNT Express has now resumed.

The European Union’s executive branch suspended its “Phase II” investigation of the proposed EUR 5.16bn offer from US integrator UPS for its Amsterdam-listed rival on 7th August. But, this week the Commission confirmed the investigation restarted on 14th August. A new provisional deadline for the investigation to be completed has now been set as 20th December, 2012.

UPS confirmed this week that it is extending the deadline for its EUR 5bn offer for rival TNT Express by 10 weeks to 9th November 2012. UPS will formally confirm the new deadline through regulatory circles on 5th September.

Canada Post losses to continue until business model changes

Major losses at Canada Post are set to continue this year, next year and beyond until the company can reposition itself with a focus on ecommerce parcels, digital communications and direct marketing.

That was the message from the Crown Corporation’s president and CEO Deepak Chopra this week, as he addressed an annual public meeting in Ottawa. This year for the first six months, the Canada Post Group has already made a $13m loss, and its losses are set to continue as the company researches how to change its business model.

Chopra said: “We have now turned the corner where the revenue will not exceed our costs in the absence of changes.”

India to improve mail quality with next-gen sorting centres

India’s communications minister Sh Kapil Sibal dedicated a new Automated Mail Processing Centre (AMPC) in Delhi this week.

The government said the new mail plant was an “important milestone” for the Department of Posts in efforts to modernize the mail processing operations at India Post. A similar mail processing plant has now been set up in Calcutta, and will be inaugurated in a few weeks’ time.

Delhi’s first class and express mail was previously handled by more than 12 smaller mail sorting centers, but the mail processing operations for the whole city has now been consolidated into the new AMPC, which can process 1m mail pieces per day in total.

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