The Association of Convenience Stores has renewed calls for the Post Office to improve franchise terms for independent retailers after reports that many Crown post offices could close.
The Post Office has denied speculation it could close directly managed or Crown branches, which are suffering annual losses of £70m. It said it would prefer independent retailers to absorb them into their stores as part of a franchise agreement.
But ACS spokesman James Lowman said many of its members were reluctant to cut such deals: “Conceptually they would say the Post Office is a great fit for them in terms of services. But one of the biggest issues is the cost of restrictions that would apply to private business opportunities.”
Lowman pointed to National Lottery and cash machines as examples of services from which the Post Office would siphon off unacceptable levels of profit: “Our members say the net worth of such deals would be less than they could make on their own. The reality of tie-ups is that there are costs as well as benefits for the retailer. That’s very sad when the PO network is facing such pressures.”
However, Spar MD Jerry Marwood said the chain was in talks with the Post Office about taking over some Crown PO franchises. “We are interested and a number of our members are negotiating with the Post Office individually.”
Tesco and Morrisons have adopted the policy of closing or relocating post offices that were part of One Stop or Safeway stores they have acquired and converted.