Sir; The report from the trade and industry select committee on Crown post offices makes interesting reading for retailers, subpostmasters and consumers.
The report identifies that the number of post offices directly managed by Post Office Ltd has declined in recent years to the current figure of 555. Evidence given to the committee by Post Office Ltd suggests that this number is likely to decline to under 400 and that many offices may be franchised.
This begs the question: as Post Office Ltd’s directly-managed estate continues to decline, who will provide post office services in local communities? The answer has to be that convenience stores are best placed to do so and should be encouraged to be partners in offering these services.
Unfortunately, the current contract between Post Office Ltd and subpostmasters discourages retailers from taking a post office into their stores. For example, retailers have to factor into their decision on including a post office the loss of 20% of their National Lottery commission. Retailers also have to terminate their existing cash machine contracts and replace them with those offered by Post Office Ltd - even if this is less profitable to the retailer.
The select committee may have focused on Crown post offices, but the bigger picture of the provision of post office services will not be missed by convenience store operators.