Post Office expands retail offering to combat high street closures

The Post Office (PO) is expanding its 'Branch MOT' rollout, saving postmasters tens of thousands of pounds

The Post Office (PO) has confirmed plans to expand its retail offering, helping postmasters generate potential savings of at least £12,615 a year.

‘Branch MOTs’, were launched at the end of 2022, in an effort to turn branches into one-stop shops to support communities amid high street closures. The news comes after the British Retail Consortium reported that six thousand shops have closed down in the UK in the last five years.

PO’s group retail officer Martin Roberts said: “Branch MOTs are in-depth reviews of our Post Offices. Area managers visit branches and craft high-level recommendations for each branch to enable Postmasters to make positive changes, where needed, based on transactional, commercial and product-level data alongside real-world projections such as location, footfall and staffing.

“They let our Postmasters know we care about them and creates a sense of family and unity at the heart of Post Office. Well over two thousand visits have been completed with MOTs happening every week and they are helping Postmasters. It’s a privilege to lead a great team of people across the business focused on delivering for Postmasters and our customers.”

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To date, 2,781 branches have had a branch MOT, with 60% of postmasters hailing the experience as being valuable, and 41% claiming to have made changes after receiving personalised recommendations.

Although consumers are increasingly ‘online’ and digital-focused, Post Office has found they still value and consider face-to-face customer service essential.  

Roberts said: “Our postmasters are very heavily involved in the community and so the customer service provided is important to Post Office and is a priority.  If you look at some of the big retailers and supermarkets, they’ve pulled away a little bit from the community.

“Our postmasters understand their customers and have often known them for decades allowing them to build trusted relationships and I think that’s where you get lifetime loyalty and I’m a big fan of developing lifetime loyalty. I want communities to thrive.”

Moulton PO, Suffolk

Moulton PO in Suffolk transformed its offering to turn the branch into a thriving café and more recently a four-bedroom Bed & Breakfast complete with jacuzzi baths.

Since taking over as postmaster in 2020, Hugo Harley has doubled the size of his branch and ensured it is now at the heart of the community it serves.

The branch also benefitted from a ‘Branch MOT’ in the last 12 months with discussions about maximising opening hours and efficiencies. New mail products and services including click and collect parcel services with Amazon and DPD have also proved to be valuable additions to Moulton Post Office with a high take up. There has also been a 10% rise in customers opting for special delivery of their items. 

In addition to providing the parcel, delivery, bill payment and banking services found in all POs, the branch also sells a wide variety of kitchen cupboard items. The café is stocked with locally produced or in-house made sandwiches, snacks, coffees and ice-creams.

The tables and chairs outside the branch are ‘always filled’ with customers who have popped in for stamps or a parcel service and stayed for a coffee and a chat, the PO said.

For Roberts, it is vital PO continues to thrive and remains central to communities by adapting to their needs. Not only will this ensure business growth, it will further reward and nurture its postmasters, said the PO. 

 He added: “As the UK’s retail sector continues to evolve, driven by the changes in the way consumers spend and the changing face of local high streets, so Post Office has evolved.

“The changes in place will ensure Post Office is future-proofed and our branches are at the heart of local communities providing face-to-face access to essential retail services.”

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