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Boss pledges overhaul as profits slide at Royal Mail

Review: Rico Back was disappointed with the results but promised clearer focus

ROYAL MAIL’S new boss is to review its under-pressure postal network as it revealed a sharp fall in profits.

Rico Back pledged action after a 27 per cent plunge in pre-tax profits to £183million for the six months to September 23.

Underlying earnings before costs of its ongoing overhaul were also sharply lower, down 25 per cent to £242million, with Royal Mail blaming lower UK revenues, poor productivity and lower-than-expected cost savings.

Mr Back said he was ‘disappointed’ with the performance but was reviewing the UK network, reining in costs and boosting productivity.

‘There will be a greater emphasis on how we connect customers, companies and countries through our domestic and international businesses,’ he said.

‘There will be a clearer focus on financial performance and management accountability. We are focused on pulling all the short and medium-term levers at our disposal to improve our performance.’

On the UK network review, the chief executive said the group would look at increasing the use of automation ‘where appropriate’ and targeted investments to create a ‘modern, optimised, efficient network’. He said: ‘This is about getting the best from it. It is not about building a new network.’

Interim results showed profits more than halved to £33million from £77million a year earlier.

I’m whacked Friday for busy Amazon staff

Full steam ahead: A worker on a motorised trolley whizzes past shelves at Amazon’s Swansea base PICTURE: PA

AMAZON workers are braced for their busiest Black Friday on record.

A flurry of orders is expected, with the online giant slashing prices for ten days starting today, a week ahead of the discounting bonanza embraced by numerous other retailers.

Staff at its warehouses across the country will have their work cut out as thousands of products are sold below full price.

There will also be ‘lightning deals’, with limited numbers of items offered at a discount for short periods.

A new AR View feature will allow mobile phone shoppers to see products in their home before they buy, using augmented reality technology.

‘Two-thirds’ of bank branches have shut

TWO-THIRDS of bank branches have closed in the past 30 years, a report finds.

There were 20,583 in 1988, compared with 7,586 today, according to an analysis of parliamentary records by Which?. The changes mean more than one in five people are two miles from their local branch, while one in ten has to travel more than three miles.

Which? Money editor Ceri Stanaway said: ‘The true scale of bank branch closures in recent decades is staggering — and has left millions of people struggling to access vital financial services and cash.’

BUSINESS BITES

■ PROPERTIES are taking a week longer on average to sell than a year ago, with sellers waiting 102 days, says Post Office Money. Edinburgh homes sold fastest (39 days) and Blackpool’s slowest (131).

■ BUSINESS trips mess up eating routines, with 58 per cent of regular travellers consuming up to 1,500 extra calories a day. Trouble sleeping was the next top gripe in a poll by aparthotel group Roomzzz.

■ CARD FACTORY has returned to sales growth ahead of the festive season. The chain said like-for-like sales were up 0.4 per cent in its third quarter to October 31 after a 47.3 per cent surge in online business.

■ PATISSERIE Valerie boss Paul May has stepped down as the firm hires turnaround expert Stephen Francis to lead a recovery. The cake chain had to raise emergency funds after finding a black hole in its accounts.

■ NEARLY half of global high-end purchases will be made by Chinese shoppers by 2025, says consultancy firm Bain. Their luxury shopping is expected to amount to 46 per cent of sales worth an estimated £323billion.