Royal Mail creates PR team for Post Office

Royal Mail is launching a dedicated comms division for its retail business as it presses ahead with planned closures of regional post offices and an expansion into financial services.

Former Lockheed Martin director of comms Mark Douglas is to take up the new post of head of communications for Post Office Limited, the customer-facing arm of Royal Mail.

Douglas left Lockheed last month and was replaced through the internal promotion of Chris Trippick (PRWeek, 13 May).

He will have a team of around five PROs and will work alongside Royal Mail group external relations director Paul Budd. They will report to Royal Mail director of corporate and government affairs Mary Fagan.

Budd said Douglas’s main responsibilities would be to communicate the roll-out of new financial products and the ‘streamlining’ of the Post Office’s branch network. Budd will continue to handle press relations for Royal Mail’s operational activities, including mail delivery and its corporate profile.

Last month, the Post Office launched a joint venture with the Bank of Ireland to sell financial service products through its branch network. The Post Office’s first product is an unsecured loan, which it is selling through its 16,500 branches, one of the largest retail networks in Europe.

The Post Office is also in the midst of a restructuring programme designed to slash the number of branches. In the 2000 to 2001 financial year, it closed 435 rural branches, with a further 194 closures from 2001 to 2002.

In 2002, Parliament backed the organisation’s plan to close up to 3,000 urban post offices.

Last month, Royal Mail announced a profit of £220m for the financial year to 2004, compared with a £197m loss the previous year.

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