Staying strong and competitive

29/12/2011

Change and challenge - keywords for 2012

I am glad to say that 2011 has been another year of progress in spite of a most difficult business climate for An Post and our customers. As the year comes to a close, I want to take a look at what we have achieved, says An Post Chief Executive Donal Connell in the end of year edition of Postnews, the company's internal newsletter. 

We confidently put our best foot forward into the fully liberalised postal market in January with our Postal Operatives taking to their routes countrywide in a smart new uniform. The well publicised new look was an opportunity to remind everyone of our long tradition of service to our customers and our intention to continue to build upon our proud and trusted service record in the newly competitive arena.

Letters down, parcels up

Core mail volume decline has continued, mainly due to the economic situation and also due to an increase in e-substitution as more companies persuade their customers to conduct business online. Much online business does generate additional parcels and packets however, and we are increasing our share of this market. Our own iloveshopping.ie continues to provide opportunities for our 650 plus online retail partners as well as for An Post. Through initiatives like growmybusiness.ie from our Mail Media Unit and gettingbusinessonline.ie in partnership with Google, Blacknight and the City and County Enterprise Boards, we are helping Irish SMEs (small to medium size enterprises) to reach potential customers and generate income to our mutual benefit. ‘Do parcels’ is just one aspect of our excellent ‘Do more’ advertising campaign. Eight different TV ads, with a mix of business and consumer messages supported by radio, press, online and direct marketing show the broad spectrum of products and services we offer. This is an extremely important and extensive promotion of the An Post brand. Indeed the strength of our brand was demonstrated when An Post was recognised as having the Best Reputation for an Indigenous Irish Organisation in the RepTrak 2011 survey. We can be deservedly proud of our standing in this regard - a good reputation in business is hard won, and maintaining it is the responsibility of every one of us, in every part of An Post.

Quality customer service

Reputations can stand or fall on service to customers. Our certification to ISO 9001:2008 standard for quality management by the NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland) is an important endorsement of our commitment to Quality. Mails Operations staff are aware of and committed to reaching targets specific to their duties and are working hard to meet them. We’ve been making steady progress year on year towards meeting our all important 94% next day target and look forward to further gains for 2011.

Our Living the Values programme has been completed and we are in the process of communicating the results of our Employee Survey. Action planning, based on the results, is underway and I am committed to making sure that those plans are implemented so that we can improve in categories where you indicated that An Post needs to do better.

 

Innovation

The introduction of Delivery scanning on each of our delivery routes so that customers using barcoded mail products can access realtime information on the status of their items, is just one example of innovation already underway in An Post. A cross functional forum is focusing on ways of ‘doing more’ in terms of innovation across every division and the outputs of that group will drive ongoing progress in this important area.

Ongoing change

Our change programmes have continued apace during the year delivering cost reductions and greater efficiency which are very necessary for our continued operation. The excellent work done in this regard by our Procurement team, in co-operation with colleagues across the Company, was recently recognised with several awards, including that for Overall Excellence in Procurement. Our labour cost savings through ongoing staff FTE (Full Time Equivalent) reduction as well as non-pay cost reductions over the past three years amount to a total of €78m.

Strong retail performance

Our Customerplus programme in Retail is increasing post office staff engagement with customers and driving additional product and service sales. We have captured 30% of market share through our successful commission-free Foreign Exchange offering and postfone, which operates in a particularly competitive market, has recruited over 14,500 customers. Our subsidiaries continue to add considerable value to our bottom line. Air Business, our UK based subsidiary acquired QSS, a major UK publication subscription services company, which will strengthen its position in this market.

Our business plans for 2012 follow the successful strategic direction charted during recent years. Given the unprecedented economic circumstances, 2012 will undoubtedly be a most challenging one. We’ll continue to work together to build and retain customer loyalty, achieve efficiencies, improve quality and reduce our costs in order to stay strong and competitive.

At our busiest time of the year, particularly for mails and post office staff, it’s appropriate for me to acknowledge the support and cooperation of all our staff and Postmasters, now and all throughout the year. I wish you and your family a happy and safe Christmas and look forward to working with you in 2012.

 

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