Ofcom has rejected Royal Mail’s claim that rival operators jeopardise its ability to offer a universal postal service. Should the group be shielded from new entrants to the sector?
YES. Our national identity is, in part, defined by unique and globally revered institutions including the BBC, the NHS and Royal Mail. Royal Mail is the pioneer on which all other postal-service models are based and at its heart is a commitment to universal service. In fact, it is a condition of Royal Mail’s existence. It is not a condition of the other services that are in competition with Royal Mail – they focus on profitable delivery franchises and leave Royal Mail to pick up the bits they don’t want. That’s not free and fair competition.
A decade from now, if Royal Mail is not given some form of protection, policymakers will look back with consternation at the demise of this great institution that stood at the heart of society. We don’t learn. Instead we are slaves to profit and lionise thrusting aggressive companies that think short-term.
Royal Mail is a big employer, and a geographically democratic one, too. If it is not offered protection because it is told there is no threat to the universal service, that danger will become manifest and the job losses will be catastrophic. But by then it will be too late. And when the Natural History Museum unveils its latest exhibit of a now extinct species, the postman, your tickets to the opening will be delivered by TNT or another competitor – unless you live outside Greater London or Manchester, when there will be no one left to make sure you get them.
David Kean is co-founder of business growth consultancy Caffeine
NO. As in any industry, for one organisation to hold a monopoly limits the choice that is available to users of the service. Online retailing has grown exponentially over the last decade, and as a result delivery expectations are constantly evolving.
E-commerce has changed the face of how and when people expect to receive parcels and in a growing marketplace the door for competition opens. It was only a matter of time before challengers to Royal Mail saw a gap to launch their own cost-effective delivery services and capitalise on the need for more options.
For those organisations that rely heavily on third-party delivery services, a competitive marketplace lets them explore the option of setting up their own internal network – a more feasible and cost-effective way of still delivering the same quality service to customers.
We launched our own delivery service in 2013 after coming to that realisation. With a proven track record in logistics, it became clear to us that we could cut out the middleman and offer our customers a complementary service at a fraction of the cost. We operate in a world where disruption is applauded and encouraged.
You only have to look at the technology and finance sectors to see that competition, especially from smaller players, is invigorating. Traditional institutions are being forced to up their game, which is no bad thing. It is great to see our industry open up in the same way.
Jon Taylor is co-founder of recruiter Transline Group