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Sunday 27 May 2018

'Half of all post offices struggling to survive'

Too many post offices: Chief executive David McRedmond
Too many post offices: Chief executive David McRedmond
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Half of the post offices in the State are struggling, the head of An Post said. His comments raise fears that up to 200 post offices, mainly in rural areas, will be forced to close. An Post chief executive David McRedmond also claimed the country has too many post offices.

He claimed the postal network was "over-servicing" the population as there are too many offices.

"We need to look at a plan for fewer, bigger post offices, co-located where possible. We're going to strip down the service to make it financially viable," Mr McRedmond said.

There are over 250 post offices located outside towns and villages, he said.

However, in other countries the average is one post office every 15km. In Ireland there are five post offices within a radius of 15km, he said.

"There are around 1,100 post offices. You could say that half of them would be struggling," he said, speaking on RTÉ and on NewsTalk radio stations.

Last week, An Post told the Government that more than half of all the post offices in the State are loss-making.

The company needed to increase the price of a stamp from 72c to €1 to avoid a cash squeeze in the near future.

Mr McRedmond revealed that An Post lost €15m last year.

The losses would have risen to €50m this year if it was not for next month's rise in the cost of postage.

A report on the future strategy of the post office network, known as the Bobby Kerr report, outlines the possible closure of 80 post office and a programme of redundancies.

But An Post is putting together its own strategy, with consultants McKinsey, which is understood to be considering up to 200 post office closures.

This review is expected to be completed in the next four to six weeks, Mr McRedmond said.

"There are many good ideas about improving the viability of the postal network, but some could just not be implemented across the 1,100.

"There are plenty of good viable business ideas, but they have to be of scale and will have to have the population to support them," he told RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland'.

There would be consultations with the Government and members of the Irish Postmasters' Union on post office closures, he said.

Postmasters are to hold a protest outside the GPO today, stressing that they will resist any post office closures driven by An Post.

The Irish Postmasters' Union (IPU) also demanded the immediate publication and implementation of the completed Kerr report.

Ned O'Hara of the IPU said his organisation was completely opposed to the approach being taken by An Post and would resist any closures driven by the company.

Irish Independent

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