Mr Lalli recently left a comment on betterRetailing.com asking about getting Post Office services in his store. He said ‘my retail outlet is just outside a hospital and almost on the town’s ring road with densely populated area, but there is a need for post office services. I have spoken to Post Office Ltd and they are saying that the distance between the offices should be 1 mile minimum.’

When Post Office Ltd undertook the Network Change programme in 2007/8 there were three criteria that they looked at in making their decisions about which branches closed and those that remained. These were volume of work, cost of servicing the branch for POL and geographic location. In urban areas this meant that it is unlikely that there is less than one mile between branches. POL used a sophisticated computer model to assist with these decisions as well as undertaking a public consultation on every closure decision.

Checking out the location of Mr Lalli’s shop there are three Post Office branches that are less than a mile from his address. This seems to indicate why his request fails the geographic location policy. The Network Change Programme Area Plan Decision Booklet for Herefordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands shows that one of the Walsall area branches was considered for closure, but remained open.

I ran a Post Office for more than 7 years having purchased the local branch when it came up for sale. I then transferred it into my premises and it became an intrinsic part of the business. It also added value to my business when I sold up last year. Post Office Ltd has a defined network and is not looking for ‘greenfield’ sites or to reopen in areas where a branch has previously been closed.

Post Office is currently investing in its network thanks to the £1.34 billion investment and support programme from the Government. As part of this, the business is committed to maintaining its network at around 11,800 branches. The modernisation programme is voluntary and subpostmasters are being offered the chance to convert their branch to a new model, stay as they are or leave  the network with compensation. If a subpostmaster opts to leave, Post Office will be looking for suitable alternative retailers nearby and will advertise vacancies on its website.

Our advice would be to keep an eye on the vacancies that arise by checking the website – visit www.postoffice.co.uk and click on ‘subpostmaster and franchise opportunities’ at the bottom of the page, under the ‘Careers’ section. This will allow you to search for Post Office vacancies by postcode area and give you all the information you need to apply if you’re interested.