Consignia's plans to close a tranche of unprofitable post offices could prove an opportunity for symbol groups such as Spar and Costcutter, said bosses at the two chains. Consignia is assessing the viability of about 9,000 post offices in urban areas ­ about half the national network ­ as part of a strategic review announced this week. The company is negotiating a compensation package for sub-postmasters wishing to bail out. Although symbol groups operate several hundred urban post offices, Spar head of retail Steve Blackmore said combi post offices and c-stores were least likely to get the chop, with the axe expected to fall on small, standalone sub post offices without any additional income stream. "There may well be situations where there are three non-viable sub-post offices in an area, which would be rationalised into one and relocated to a c-store," said Blackmore. "It's still very early days however, and people are waiting to see what the compensation is going to be before they put up their hands and volunteer to go." More than 420 Spar retailers have post offices. Costcutter sales director David Thompson said retailers were becoming more cautious about taking on a post office, given the government's move to pay benefits directly into bank accounts rather than post offices. However, there was still plenty of interest from Costcutter members and from sub-postmasters wishing to branch out into convenience retailing, he said. "We're growing all the time in this area. I don't think this review has come as a surprise to anyone. Provided the location is right, combining a post office and c-store makes more sense than ever." A Consignia spokeswoman said a number of different options were being explored, such as encouraging more sub-post offices to join symbol groups, or moving branches to libraries and other public places. {{NEWS }}