The Post Office has today (Wednesday, April 13) announced a new 10-year agreement with WHSmith to relocate up to 61 Post Office branches into the retailer’s stores.
WHSmith currently operates 107 Post Office branches from their stores. Under the new agreement, subject to local consultations, up to another 61 Post Office branches will move into WHSmith stores over the next 12 months, with just over half expected to be concession agreements run directly by the Post Office.
The plans will include some of the 39 directly-run Crown Post Office branches that the Post Office announced proposals to franchise in January this year, but exact locations are yet to be confirmed.
Lewes Crown Post Office was one of the 39 branches included in the proposal. The Sussex Express has contacted Post Office Ltd for confirmation whether the town’s branch will be one of the 61 moving into a WHSmith store.
Post Office Chief Executive Paula Vennells said: “We know that people place huge importance on the presence of a Post Office branch on their high street. Our collaboration with WHSmith will help to secure this, as well as bring new investment into the network.”
Roger Gale, General Manager of the Post Office’s Crown branch network said that WHSmith franchises had improved customer service and brought benefits, with the majority open Saturday afternoons and on Sundays.
“The vast majority of the Post Office’s network of 11,500 Post Office branches is already run on a franchise or agency basis” he said.
“Crown branches are still run by directly by the Post Office but factors such as high property costs and changing customer habits mean we have to consider new ways to provide our services in some locations.
“Today’s agreement means we can maintain and improve services from convenient high street locations in a commercially sustainable way. It’s great to be working with a partner that we know shares our values and is as committed to thriving Post Office branches.”
Mr Gale added that staff affected by the new agreement will be informed first about plans for their own branches when these are finalised. Under concession agreements staff remain employed by the Post Office whilst under a franchise agreement they have the right to transfer to WHSmith.
Local communities will also be kept well informed and consulted on next steps before changes take place.
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