Royal Mail hires Richard Hooper to help lobby against TNT Post UK
The man who led the review that paved the way for the privatisation of Royal Mail has been hired to help lobby regulator Ofcom to take action over the activities postal delivery rival TNT Post UK. Richard Hooper chaired the independent review of the UK postal sector which reported to successive UK governments in 2008 and 2010, laying out the groundwork that ultimately led to Royal Mail’s IPO last October.
Now he has been tasked by Royal Mail itself to help persuade the postal regulator to bring forward a review of the activities of TNT Post UK, which is owned by Dutch postal service PostNL.
TNT Post has been steadily building the first serious competition for Royal Mail’s last mile postal network since 2012. The company’s activities have been labelled as “cherry picking” by Royal Mail, which has said the practice of focusing competition in the most profitable delivery areas undermines the one-price-goes-anywhere universal postal service.
Royal Mail has been vigorously lobbying to have TNT Post UK given tougher mail service standards or be made to contribute towards the economics of the universal service. However, so far Ofcom has said it doesn’t see evidence that Royal Mail’s services are yet being threatened.
Last month saw another request made to Ofcom to bring forward its planned 2015 review of direct delivery competition and the status of the universal service.
Hooper, who is a former Ofcom deputy chairman, is currently senior independent director of Vocalink, the agency that runs the UK’s national payments infrastructure.
Commenting on his appointment as Royal Mail’s advisor, he said the universal postal service was a “cherished public good” that was of importance to all UK citizens and businesses.
“I look forward to working with Royal Mail to encourage Ofcom to bring forward its review as soon as possible so that the threat to the universal postal service can be independently assessed and solutions found where necessary,” he said.
“When I carried out my independent review of the postal services sector for Secretary of State Peter Mandelson in the last Labour Government and for Secretary of State Vince Cable in the present Coalition Government, the risk posed by cherry picking was one issue on which both Houses of Parliament and all sides of the political divide agreed.”