Nov 13 2012
Royal Mail has reported a huge increase in half-yearly profits as growth in parcel deliveries made up for a continued fall in the number of letters being sent.
Group operating profits in the six months to September were £144 million, compared with £12 million in the same period last year.
UK parcel revenue was up by 13%, with parcels representing 47% of total group revenue. Revenue from letters was 2% higher following the increase in stamp prices earlier this year, although letter volumes fell by 9%.
The group said in its interim report that preparations are now under way for the sale of Royal Mail.
"Obtaining external capital is a key part of the transformation process as we become a more parcels-focused business and make the investment in technology to do so," said the report.
Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene said all of the group's main businesses were profitable. She highlighted the turnaround in the UK parcels, international and letters business (UKPIL), where a loss of £41 million in the half year to last September has been converted into a profit of £99 million.
Ms Greene said Royal Mail's modernisation programme involved "painful, difficult change", with almost every aspect of work being transformed, adding: "I believe our people generally understand the need for the company to continue to adapt to a rapidly changing postal market and that the company and the unions need to work together for the benefit of both our customers and our colleagues."
Ms Greene told a news conference that Royal Mail used to be in a "very deep hole" but is now climbing out and all parts of the business are profitable.
The 9% fall in letters was in line with expectations, but the amount of marketing mail was increasing, now accounting for around half the daily postbag. Ms Greene said the timing of Royal Mail's privatisation was a matter for the Government, but she believed the organisation could not generate the investment it needed by itself.
Business Minister Michael Fallon said: "These results from Royal Mail are encouraging, showing how Royal Mail staff and management together with the Government's reforms have put the company on the road to sustainable health and long-term viability. Parliament decided, via the Postal Services Act 2011, to inject private capital into the company in order to secure the future of the universal postal service. The structure and timing remain open, but Government is committed to doing that to ensure the ongoing viability of the company."