Express Dairies is set to increase by fivefold the number of letters and packets it delivers from its milk floats to homes and businesses each year.

Express has begun a 30-day consultation with postal regulator Postcomm for a new long term licence to deliver up to 46 million items over a minimum of seven years.

The dairy group has held an interim postal licence since July 2002 - restricted to a pilot scheme of a minimum 12 months - and delivers between 5,000 and 6,000 items per week to households using its 106 urban depots.

Express has concentrated on delivering flat packets that can be delivered through the letter box or left in secure places. These include contact lenses, catalogues, directories, CDs and books.