The Royal Mail (Welsh: Post Brenhinol; Scottish Gaelic: a' Phuist Rìoghail) is a postal service and courier company in the United Kingdom, originally established in 1516. The company's subsidiary, Royal Mail Group Limited, operates the brands Royal Mail (letters) and Parcelforce Worldwide (parcels). General Logistics Systems, an international logistics company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Mail Group. For a brief period in the early 2000s, the group used the name Consignia before reverting to its original name.
The company provides mail collection and delivery services throughout the UK. Letters are deposited in a post box, taken to a post office, or collected in bulk from businesses. Royal Mail owns and maintains the UK's distinctive red pillar boxes, first introduced in 1852, many of which bear the initials of the reigning monarch. Deliveries are made at least once every day except Sundays and bank holidays at uniform charges for all UK destinations. Royal Mail generally aims to make first class deliveries the next business day throughout the nation.
For most of its history, the Royal Mail was a public service, operating as a government department or public corporation. However, following the Postal Services Act 2011, a majority of the shares in Royal Mail were floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2013. The UK government initially retained a 30% stake in Royal Mail, but sold its remaining shares in 2015, ending 499 years of public ownership. It is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
|Public limited company|
|Traded as||LSE: RMG|
|Industry||Postal services, courier|
|Headquarters||100 Victoria Embankment, London, EC4Y 0HQ, |
|United Kingdom / Worldwide|
(Group Chief Executive Officer) 
|Services||Letter post, parcel service, EMS, delivery, freight forwarding, third-party logistics|
|Revenue||£10,172 million (2018)|
|£66 million (2018)|
|£258 million (2018)|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||General Logistics Systems|
Upon his accession to the throne of England at the Union of the Crowns in 1603, James VI and I moved his court to London. One of his first acts from London was to establish the royal postal service between London and Edinburgh, in an attempt to retain control over the Scottish Privy Council.
In the 1640s Parliament removed the monopoly from Witherings and during the Civil War and First Commonwealth the parliamentary postal service was run at great profit for himself by Edmund Prideaux (a prominent parliamentarian and lawyer who rose to be attorney-general). To keep his monopoly in those troubled times Prideaux improved efficiency and used both legal impediments and illegal methods.
In 1653 Parliament set aside all previous grants for postal services, and contracts were let for the inland and foreign mails to John Manley. Manley was given a monopoly on the postal service, which was effectively enforced by Protector Oliver Cromwell's government, and thanks to the improvements necessitated by the war Manley ran a much improved Post Office service. In July 1655 the Post Office was put under the direct government control of John Thurloe, a Secretary of State, and best known to history as Cromwell's spymaster general. Previous English governments had tried to prevent conspirators communicating, Thurloe preferred to deliver their post having surreptitiously read it. As the Protectorate claimed to govern all of Great Britain and Ireland under one unified government, on 9 June 1657 the Second Protectorate Parliament (which included Scottish and Irish MPs) passed the "Act for settling the Postage in England, Scotland and Ireland" that created one monopoly Post Office for the whole territory of the Commonwealth. The first Postmaster General was appointed in 1661, and a seal was first fixed to the mail.
At the restoration of the monarchy, in 1660, all the ordinances and acts passed by parliaments during the Civil War and the Interregnum passed into oblivion, so the General Post Office (GPO) was officially established by Charles II in 1660.
Between 1719 and 1763, Ralph Allen, postmaster at Bath, signed a series of contracts with the post office to develop and expand Britain's postal network. He organised mail coaches which were provided by both Wilson & Company of London and Williams & Company of Bath. The early Royal Mail Coaches were similar to ordinary family coaches but with Post Office livery.
The first mail coach ran in 1784, operating between Bristol and London. Delivery staff received uniforms for the first time in 1793, and the Post Office Investigation Branch was established. The first mail train ran in 1830, on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The Post Office's money order system was introduced in 1838.
In December 1839 the first substantial reform started when postage rates were revised by the short-lived Uniform Fourpenny Post. Greater changes took place when the Uniform Penny Post was introduced on 10 January 1840 whereby a single rate for delivery anywhere in Great Britain and Ireland was pre-paid by the sender. A few months later, to certify that postage had been paid on a letter, the sender could affix the first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black that was available for use from 6 May the same year. Other innovations were the introduction of pre-paid William Mulready designed postal stationery letter sheets and envelopes.
As Britain was the first country to issue prepaid postage stamps, British stamps are the only stamps that do not bear the name of the country of issue on them.
By the late 19th century, there were between six and twelve mail deliveries per day in London, permitting correspondents to exchange multiple letters within a single day.
The first Post Office pillar box was erected in 1852 in Jersey. Pillar boxes were introduced in mainland Britain the following year. British pillar boxes traditionally carry the Latin initials of the reigning monarch at the time of their installation, for example: VR for Victoria Regina or GR for Georgius Rex. Such branding is not used in Scotland due to dispute over the current monarch's title. Some Scottish nationalists argue that Queen Elizabeth II should have simply been Queen Elizabeth as there had been no previous Queen Elizabeth of Scotland or of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Elizabeth I was Queen only of the pre-1707 Kingdom of England). The dispute included vandalism and attacks on pillar and post boxes introduced in Scotland that displayed EIIR. To avoid the dispute, pillar boxes in Scotland were either marked 'Post Office' or use the Scots Crown.
A national telephone service was opened by the Post Office in 1912. In 1919, the first international airmail service was developed by Royal Engineers (Postal Section) and Royal Air Force. The London Post Office Railway was opened in 1927.
In 1941 an airgraph service was introduced between UK and Egypt. The service was later extended to: Canada (1941), East Africa (1941), Burma (1942), India (1942), South Africa (1942), Australia (1943), New Zealand (1943) Ceylon (1944) and Italy (1944).
Under the Post Office Act 1969 the General Post Office was changed from a government department to a statutory corporation, known simply as the Post Office. The office of Postmaster General was abolished and replaced with the positions of chairman and chief executive in the new company.
The two-class postal system was introduced in 1968, using first-class and second-class services. The Post Office opened the National Giro Bank that year.
In 1971, postal services in Great Britain were suspended for two months between January and March as the result of a national postal strike over a pay claim. Postcodes were extended across Great Britain and Northern Ireland between 1959 and 1974.
Postal workers held their first national strike for 17 years in 1988 after walking out over bonuses being paid to recruit new workers in London and the South East. Royal Mail established Romec (Royal Mail Engineering & Construction) in 1989 to deliver facilities maintenance services to its business. Romec is 51% owned by Royal Mail and 49% by Haden Building Management Ltd which became Balfour Beatty WorkPlace and now Cofely UK, part of GDF Suez in a joint venture.
British Telecom was separated from the Post Office Corporation in 1980 and demerged as an independent business in 1981. Girobank was sold to Alliance & Leicester in 1990 and Royal Mail Parcels was rebranded as Parcelforce. The remaining business continued under public ownership as privatisation of this was deemed to be too unpopular. However, in the 1990s President of the Board of Trade Michael Heseltine began investigating a possible sale and eventually a Green Paper on Postal Reform was published in May 1994, outlining various options for privatisation. The ideas though, proved controversial and were dropped from the 1994 Queen's Speech after a number of Conservative MPs warned Heseltine they would not vote for the legislation.
After a change of government in 1997, the Labour administration decided to keep the Post Office state-owned but with more commercial freedom. This led to the Postal Services Act 2000, where the Post Office became a public limited company in which the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry owned 50,004 ordinary shares plus 1 special share, and the Treasury Solicitor held 1 ordinary share. The company was renamed Consignia plc in 2001 and the new name was intended to show that the company did more than deliver mail; however, the change was very unpopular with both the public and employees. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) boycotted the name, and the following year, it was announced that the company would be renamed Royal Mail Group plc.
In 1999 Royal Mail launched a short-lived e-commerce venture, ViaCode Limited, aimed at providing encrypted online communications services. However it failed to make a profit and closed in 2002.
As part of the 2000 Act the government set up a postal regulator, the Postal Services Commission, known as Postcomm, which offered licences to private companies to deliver mail. In 2001, the Consumer Council for Postal Services, known as Postwatch, was created for consumers to express any concerns they may have with the postal service in Britain.
In 2004, the second daily delivery was scrapped in an effort to reduce costs and improve efficiency, meaning a later single delivery would be made. That year, the travelling post office mail trains were also axed. The following year Royal Mail signed a contract with GB Railfreight to operate an overnight rail service between London and Scotland (carrying bulk mail, and without any on-train sorting); this was later followed by a London-Newcastle service.
On 1 January 2006, the Royal Mail lost its 350-year monopoly and the British postal market became fully open to competition. Competitors were allowed to collect and sort mail, and pass it to Royal Mail for delivery, a service known as downstream access. Royal Mail introduced Pricing in Proportion (PiP) for first and second class inland mail, whereby prices are affected by the size as well as weight of items. It also introduced an online postage service, allowing customers to pay for postage online.
In 2007 the Royal Mail Group plc became Royal Mail Group Ltd in a slight change of legal status. Royal Mail ended Sunday collections from pillar boxes that year.
In 2008, due to a continuing fall in mail volumes the government commissioned an independent review of the postal services sector by Richard Hooper CBE, the former deputy chairman of Ofcom. The recommendations in the Hooper Review led Business Secretary Lord Mandelson to seek to part privatise the company by selling a minority stake to a commercial partner. However, despite legislation for the sale passing the House of Lords, it was abandoned in the House of Commons after strong opposition from backbench Labour MPs. The government later cited the difficult economic conditions for the reason behind the retreat.
On 6 December 2010, a number of paid-for services including Admail, post office boxes and private postboxes were removed from the Inland Letter Post Scheme (ILPS) and became available under contract. Several free services including petitions to parliament and the sovereign, and poste restante were removed from the scheme.
Following the 2010 general election, the new Business Secretary in the coalition government, Vince Cable, asked Richard Hooper CBE to expand on his report, to account for EU Directive 2008/6/EC which called for the postal sector to be fully open to competition by 31 December 2012. Based on the Hooper Review Update the government passed the Postal Services Act 2011. The Act allowed for up to 90% of Royal Mail to be privatised, with at least 10% of shares to be held by Royal Mail employees.
As part of the 2011 Act, Postcomm was merged into the communications regulator Ofcom on 1 October 2011, with Ofcom introducing a new simplified set of regulations for postal services on 27 March 2012. On 31 March 2012, the Government took over the historic assets and liabilities of the Royal Mail pension scheme, relieving Royal Mail of its huge pensions deficit. On 1 April 2012, Post Office Ltd became independent of Royal Mail Group and was reorganised to become a subsidiary of Royal Mail Holdings, with a separate management and board of directors. A 10-year inter-business agreement was signed between the two companies to allow Post Offices to continue issuing stamps and handling letters and parcels for Royal Mail. The Act also contained the option for Post Office Ltd to become a mutual organisation in the future.
In July 2013, business secretary Vince Cable announced Royal Mail was to be floated on the London Stock Exchange and confirmed that postal staff would be entitled to free shares. Cable explained his position before the House of Commons:
The government's decision on the sale is practical, it is logical, it is a commercial decision designed to put Royal Mail's future on a long-term sustainable business. It is consistent with developments elsewhere in Europe where privatised operators in Austria, Germany and Belgium produce profit margins far higher than the Royal Mail but have continued to provide high-quality and expanding services.
Royal Mail's chief executive Moya Greene publicly supported Cable, stating that the sale would provide staff with "a meaningful stake in the company", while the public will be able to "invest in a great British institution". On 12 September 2013, a six-week plan for the sale of at least half of the business was released to the public; the Communication Workers Union (CWU), representing over 100,000 Royal Mail employees, said that 96% of Royal Mail staff opposed the sell-off. A postal staff ballot in relation to a nationwide strike action was expected to take place in late September 2013.
Applications for members of the public to buy shares opened on 27 September 2013, ahead of the company's listing on the London Stock Exchange on 15 October 2013. The government was expected to retain between a 37.8% and 49.9% holding in the company. A report on 10 October 2013 revealed that around 700,000 applications for shares had been received by HM Government, more than seven times the amount that is available to the public. Business Secretary Vince Cable stated: "The aim is to place the shares with long-term investors, we are absolutely confident that will happen." At the time of the report, Royal Mail staff continued to ballot regarding potential strike action.
Conditional trading in shares began on 11 October 2013, ahead of the full listing on 15 October 2013. Following the IPO, 52.2% of Royal Mail had been sold to investors, with 10% given to employees for free. Due to the high demand for shares, an additional 7.8% was sold via an over-allotment arrangement on 8 November 2013. This left the government with a 30% stake in Royal Mail and £1.98bn raised from the sale of shares.
The CWU confirmed on 13 October 2013 that strike action would occur in response to the privatisation of Royal Mail, with a possible start date of 23 October 2013. A union source stated: "It is likely to be an all-out strike first, then rolling strikes in the run up to Christmas", while the CWU had dismissed the offer of an 8.6% rise over three years as "misleading and unacceptable". Prior to the announcement of the strike ballot results on the afternoon of 16 October 2013, employees were offered £300 to cross the picket line if a nationwide postal strike occurs. The CWU called off strike action on 30 October 2013 while negotiations progressed with Royal Mail's management. The talks were extended on 13 November 2013, with the aim that an agreement be reached by both sides by 20 November 2013. Royal Mail confirmed that both sides had reached a proposed settlement on 4 December, and the CWU confirmed on 9 December 2013 that it would recommend the deal to its members. On 6 February 2014, the CWU confirmed that Royal Mail staff had voted to accept the settlement.
Share prices rose by 38% on the first day of conditional trading, leading to accusations that the company had been undervalued. Six months later, the market price was 58% more than the sale price and peaked as high as 87%—much of this profit was acquired by large investors, such as pension funds and hedge funds, that were given priority during the allocation of shares. Business Secretary Vince Cable defended the low sale price that was finalised—saying the threat of strike action around the time of the sale meant it was a fair price in the circumstances—following questioning from the House of Commons Business Committee in late April 2014. On behalf of both himself and Business Minister Michael Fallon, Cable stated before the Committee: "We don't apologise for it and we don't regret it."
Cable was required to respond to the sale price issue again on 11 July 2014 after a report was published on that date by the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee. Chaired by Adrian Bailey MP, the report concluded:
It is clear that the Government met its objectives in terms of delivering a privatised Royal Mail with an employee share scheme. However, it is not clear whether value for money was achieved and whether Ministers obtained the appropriate return to the taxpayer. We agree with the National Audit Office that the Government met its primary objective. On the basis of the performance of the share price to date, it appears that the taxpayer has missed out on significant value.
The report also concluded that the "Government over-emphasised the risk" in regard to the industrial relations between the government and the CWU, with the BIS Committee referring to the Royal Mail share price before, during and after the finalisation of the pay deal with the union. During the presentation of the report, Bailey referred to the underpinning factors of "fear of failure and poor quality advice", and warned that British taxpayers could sustain further losses in the future due to the inclusion of Royal Mail's 'surplus' assets as part of "the most significant privatisation in years". The BIS Committee called on the UK government to publish a list of the preferred investors involved in the sale, including the details of those investors who sold their shareholding. Billy Hayes, general secretary of the CWU, also responded to the BIS report: "The Bis select committee's damning report published today shows the extent of the government's incompetence in the privatisation of Royal Mail."
On 4 June 2015, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced the government would sell its remaining 30% stake. A 15% stake was subsequently sold to investors on 11 June 2015, raising £750m, with a further 1% passed to the company's employees. The government completed the disposal of its shareholding on 12 October 2015, when a 13% stake was sold for £591m and another 1% was given to employees. In total the government raised £3.3bn from the full privatisation of Royal Mail.
As of 13 January 2019, Royal Mail share value is at an all time low.
Royal Mail is required by law to maintain the universal service, whereby items of a specific size can be sent to any location within the United Kingdom for a fixed price, not affected by distance. The Postal Services Act 2011 guaranteed that Royal Mail would continue to provide the universal service until at least 2021.
Royal Mail Special Delivery is an expedited mail service that guarantees delivery by 1 pm or 9 am the next day for an increased cost. In the event that the item does not arrive on time there is a money back guarantee. It insures goods to the value of £50 for 9 am or £500 for 1 pm to £2,500 (for either service).
The Royal Mail runs, alongside its stamped mail services, another sector of post called business mail. The large majority of Royal Mail's business mail service is for PPI or franked mail, where the sender prints their own 'stamp'. For PPI mail this involves either a simple rubber stamp and an ink pad, or a printed label. For franked mail, a dedicated franking machine is used.
Bulk business mail, using Mailmark technology, attracts reduced prices of up to 32%, if the sender prints an RM4SCC barcode, or prints the address in a specified position on the envelope using a font readable by optical character recognition (OCR) equipment.
Royal Mail will not carry a number of items which it says could be dangerous for its staff or vehicles. Additionally, a list of 'restricted' items can be posted subject to conditions. Prohibited goods include alcoholic, corrosive or flammable liquids or solids, gases, controlled drugs, indecent or offensive materials, and human and animal remains.
In 2004 Royal Mail applied to the then postal regulator Postcomm to ban the carriage of sporting firearms, saying they caused disruption to the network, that a ban would assist police with firearms control, and that ease of access meant the letters network was a target of criminals. Postcomm issued a consultation on the proposed changes in December 2004, to which 62 people and organisations responded.
In June 2005 Postcomm decided to refuse the application on the grounds that Royal Mail had not provided sufficient evidence that carrying firearms caused undue disruption or that a ban would reduce the number of illegal weapons. It also said a ban would cause unnecessary hardship to individuals and businesses.
In August 2012 Royal Mail again attempted to prohibit the carriage of all firearms, air rifles and air pistols from 30 November 2012. It cited Section 14(1) of the 1998 Firearms (Amendment) Act, which requires carriers of firearms to "take reasonable precautions" for their safe custody and argued that to comply would involve disproportionate cost. A Royal Mail public consultation document on the changes said: "We expect the impact on customers to be minimal".
The proposals provoked a large negative response following a campaign led by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and backed by numerous shooting-related websites and organisations. A total of 1,458 people gave their views in emails and letters sent to Royal Mail. An online petition opposing the proposals was signed by 2,236 people, 1,742 of whom added comments. In the face of such opposition, Royal Mail dropped the proposals in December 2012.
Royal Mail's "Door to door" service provides delivery of leaflets, brochures, catalogues and other print materials to groups of domestic and business addresses selected by postcode. Such deliveries are made by the mail carrier together as part of the daily round. Companies using the "Door to door" service include Virgin Media, BT, Sky, Talk Talk, Farmfoods, Domino's Pizza, Direct Line and Morrisons. In 2005 the service delivered 3.3 billion items.
The "Door to door" service does not use the UK Mailing Preference Service – instead, Royal Mail operates its own opt-out database. Warnings about missing government communications given by Royal Mail to customers opting out of their service have been criticised by customers and consumer groups. Clarification given by the company in June 2015 explained that election communications and unaddressed government mail would be delivered to customers even if they had opted out.
As of 2013, Royal Mail employs around 150,000 permanent postal workers. An additional 18,000 casual workers are employed during November and December to assist with the additional Christmas post.
In 2011, Royal Mail established an in-house agency, Angard Staffing Solutions, to recruit temporary workers. Royal Mail was accused of trying to circumvent the Agency Workers Regulations, but denied this, saying they only wanted to reduce recruitment costs. In January 2012 it was reported that Angard had failed to pay a number of workers for several weeks.
Royal Mail's industrial disputes include a seven-week strike in 1971 after a dispute over pay and another strike in 1988 due to bonuses being paid to new staff recruited in London and the South East.
Royal Mail suffered national wildcat strikes over pay and conditions in 2003. In Autumn 2007, disputes over modernisation began to escalate into industrial action. In mid October the CWU and Royal Mail agreed a resolution to the dispute.
In December 2008, workers at mail centres affected by proposals to rationalise the number of mail centres (particularly in north west England) again voted for strike action, potentially affecting Christmas deliveries. The action was postponed less than 24 hours before staff were due to walk out.
Localised strikes took place across the UK from June 2009 and grew in frequency throughout the summer. In September 2009 the CWU opened a national ballot for industrial action over Royal Mail's failure to reach a national agreement covering protection of jobs, pay, terms and conditions and the cessation of managerial executive action. The ballot was passed in October, causing a number of two and three-day strikes.
Penny Post Credit Union Limited is a savings and loans co-operative established by a joint project with the CWU in 1996, as Royal Mail Wolverhampton and District Employees Credit Union, it became Royal Mail (West) Credit Union in 2000, before adopting the present name in 2001. Based at the North West Midlands Mail Centre, it is a member of the Association of British Credit Unions Limited.
The credit union is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the PRA. Ultimately, like the banks and building societies, members' savings are protected against business failure by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The Royal Mail is regulated by Ofcom, while consumer interests are represented by the Citizens Advice Bureau. The relationship between the two bodies' predecessors (Postcomm and Postwatch) was not always good, and in 2005, Postwatch took Postcomm to judicial review over its decision regarding rebates to late-paying customers.
Royal Mail has, in some quarters, a poor reputation for losing mail despite its claims that more than 99.93% of mail arrives safely and in 2006 was fined £11.7 million due to the amount of mail lost, stolen or damaged. In the first three months of 2011, around 120,000 letters were lost.
In July 2012 Ofcom consulted on a scheme proposed by Royal Mail to alter its delivery obligations to allow larger postal items to be left with neighbours rather than returning them to a Royal Mail office to await collection. The scheme was presented as offering consumers greater choice for receiving mail when not at home, that is if Royal Mail deliver items as per their stated contractual obligations and was said to follow Royal Mail research from a 'delivery to neighbour' trial across six areas of the UK that showed widespread consumer satisfaction. In a statement dated 27 September 2012, Ofcom announced it would approve the scheme after noting that more goods were being purchased over the internet and that Royal Mail's competitors were permitted to leave undelivered items with neighbours. People who do not wish to have parcels left with neighbours, or to receive those of others, can opt out by displaying a free opt-out sticker near their letterbox. Royal Mail remains liable for undeliverable items until they are received by the addressee or returned to sender.
Ofcom suggested in October 2012 that the first and second class post systems could be replaced by a single class. The new class would be set at a higher price than the current second class, but would be delivered in a shorter time-frame.
Royal Mail operates a network of 38 mail centres. Each mail centre serves a large geographically defined area of the UK and together they form the backbone network of the mail distribution operation. Mail is collected and brought to one of the mail centres. Mail is exchanged between the mail centres and then forwarded to one of 1,356 delivery offices, from where the final delivery is made or a P739 card is left.
As part of the sorting process, mail is collected from pillar boxes, Post Office branches and businesses, and brought to the local mail centre. The process is divided into two parts. The 'outward' sorting identifies mail for delivery in the mail centre geographic area, which is retained, and mail intended for other mail centres, which is dispatched. The 'inward' sorting forwards mail received from other centres to the relevant delivery offices within the mail centre area.
Integrated mail processing (IMP) is the method that Royal Mail uses to sort the mail (in bulk) before delivery and has been implementing the technology since 1999. The system works by automated optical character recognition of postcodes. Integrated mail processors scan the front and back of an envelope and translate addresses into machine-readable code. Letters are given a fluorescent orange barcode that represents the address. The barcode follows the RM4SCC pattern. Per mail item there are over 250 types of information that are collected from mail class to indicia type. Some scanning and detection features have been removed as they have been superseded by newer technology. This is known as the IMP Extension of Life (EoL) program.
Royal Mail operates 66 intelligent letter sorting machines (ILSMs) in the UK and were installed in the mid-1980s and early 1990s to improve the speed and efficiency of sorting and delivering mail. It processes more than 36,000 items per hour and was part of their ongoing modernisation programme that commenced in the early 1980s.
Royal Mail operates an international mail sorting centre in Langley, Berkshire close to Heathrow Airport called the Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre to handle all international airmail arriving into and leaving the United Kingdom, plus some container and road transported mail.
As of June 2016, the 38 operational mail centres (divided into Royal Mail regions) are:
The number of mail centres has been declining as part of the Mail Centre Rationalisation Programme. In 2008, there were 69 mail centres and in 2010 there were 64. It was anticipated that around half of these could be closed by 2016. Oldham and Stockport along with Oxford and Reading mail centres all closed in 2009 and Bolton, Crewe, Liverpool, Northampton, Coventry and Milton Keynes were closed in 2010. Farnborough, Watford and Stevenage were closed in 2011. Hemel Hempstead, Southend, Worcester were closed in 2012. Dartford, Tonbridge, Maidstone and Canterbury were closed in 2012 but replaced by a new mail centre in Rochester. The East London and South London mail centres were closed during summer 2012.
In 2013 and 2014, a further eight mail centres were planned to be closed. The old mail centres in Northampton, Coventry and Milton Keynes were replaced with the new South Midlands mail centre in Northampton covering Warwickshire, Coventry, Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes. The South Midlands Mail Centre is the largest in the UK.
Royal Mail is famous for its custom load-carrying bicycles (with the rack and basket built into the frame), made by Pashley Cycles since 1971. Since 2000, old delivery bicycles have been shipped to Africa by the charity Re~Cycle; over 8,000 had been donated by 2004. In 2009, Royal Mail announced it was beginning to phase out bicycle deliveries, to be replaced with more push-trolleys and vans. A spokesman said that they would continue to use bicycles on some rural routes, and that there was no plan to phase out bicycles completely.
In addition to running a large number of road vehicles, Royal Mail uses trains, a ship and some aircraft, with an air hub at East Midlands Airport. Dedicated night mail flights are operated by Titan Airways for Royal Mail between East Midlands Airport and Bournemouth Airport and between Exeter International Airport and London Stansted Airport. One Boeing 737-3Y0 was flown in full Royal Mail livery. In June 2013, Royal Mail confirmed it would extend Titan Airways' contract to operate night flights from Stansted Airport, from January 2014 to January 2017, introducing new routes to Edinburgh and Belfast using three Boeing 737s. The new contract called for the replacement of the British Aerospace 146-200QC (Quick Change) aircraft in favour of a standard Boeing 737 fleet, and the type was withdrawn by Titan Airways in November 2013.
The RMS St. Helena is a cargo and passenger ship that served the British overseas territory of Saint Helena. It sailed between Cape Town, Saint Helena and Ascension Island. It was one of only two Royal Mail Ships in service, alongside the Queen Mary 2, although it did not belong to Royal Mail Group.
British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are allowed to establish independent postal systems, and typically now have local government agencies, British government delegates, or BFPO as postal operators. (See List of postal entities.) Though served by independent operators, the three Crown Dependencies use British postcodes in co-operation with Royal Mail; each dependency has its own postal area. The same prices are charged by the four operators for delivery throughout their collective area, though delivery times vary and interjurisdictional mail must clear customs.
Adam Alexander Crozier (born 26 January 1964) is a Scottish businessman, and was former chief executive officer of media company ITV plc, operator of the ITV television network covering most of the United Kingdom.
After a career at Saatchi & Saatchi culminating in the post of joint chief executive in 1995, he came to wide public prominence as the new chief executive of The Football Association in 2000 at the age of 35, before in 2003 becoming the chief executive of the Royal Mail Group, the United Kingdom's mail delivery service, where he oversaw a controversial modernisation and redundancy programme.
In January 2010 he was announced as the new chief executive of ITV plc, where he arrived on 26 April 2010. Crozier announced he was leaving this post in June 2017.British Rail Class 325
The British Rail Class 325 is a 4-car dual-voltage 25 kV alternating current (AC) or 750 V direct current (DC) electric multiple unit (EMU) train used for postal train services. While the Class 325 bears a resemblance to the Networker series of DMUs and EMUs, they are based on the Class 319 EMU. The Class 325 was British Rail's newest unit to take over parcels workings on electrified lines.Canada Post
Canada Post Corporation (French: Société canadienne des postes), trading as Canada Post (French: Postes Canada), is a Crown corporation which functions as the primary postal operator in Canada. Originally known as Royal Mail Canada (the operating name of the Post Office Department of the Canadian government founded in 1867), rebranding was done to the "Canada Post" name in the late 1960s, even though it had not yet been separated from the government. On October 16, 1981, the Canada Post Corporation Act came into effect. This abolished the Post Office Department and created the present day Crown corporation which provides postal service. The act aimed to set a new direction for the postal service by ensuring the postal service's financial security and independence.Canada Post provided service to more than 16 million addresses and delivered nearly 8.4 billion items in 2016 and consolidated revenue from operations reached $7.88 billion. Delivery takes place via traditional "to the door" service and centralized delivery by 25,000 letter carriers, through a 13,000 vehicle fleet. There are more than 6,200 post offices across the country, a combination of corporate offices and private franchises that are operated by retailers, such as drugstores. In terms of area serviced, Canada Post delivers to a larger area than the postal service of any other nation, including Russia (where service in Siberia is limited largely to communities along the railway). As of 2004, nearly 843,000 rural Canadian customers received residential mail delivery services.Canada Post operates as a group of companies called The Canada Post Group. It employs approximately 64,000 full and part-time employees. The Corporation holds an interest in Purolator Courier, Innovapost, Progistix-Solutions and Canada Post International Limited. In 2000, Canada Post created a company called Epost, allowed customers to receive their bill online for free. In 2007, Epost was absorbed into Canada Post.
Canada Post (French: Postes Canada) is the Federal Identity Programme name. The legal name is Canada Post Corporation in English and Société canadienne des postes in French. During the late 1980s and much of the 1990s, the short forms used in the corporation's logo were "Mail" (English) and "Poste" (French), rendered as "Mail Poste" in English Canada, and "Poste Mail" in Québec, although English-language advertising also still referred to the corporation as "Canada Post".Communication Workers Union (United Kingdom)
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is the main trade union in the United Kingdom for people working for telephone, cable, digital subscriber line (DSL) and postal delivery companies. It has 110,000 members in Royal Mail as well as more in many other communication companies.Formed in 1995, by the merger of the Union of Communication Workers and National Communications Union, its current general secretary is Dave Ward. CWU members work for Royal Mail, the Post Office, BT, O2, cable TV, Accenture HR Services, EE, Virgin Media and other communication companies. Members' expertise includes engineering, computing, clerical, mechanical, driving, retail, financial and manual skills.Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British–American cruise line based at Carnival House at Southampton, England, operated by Carnival UK and owned by Carnival Corporation & plc. Since 2011, Cunard and its three ships have been registered in Hamilton, Bermuda.In 1839 Samuel Cunard, a Halifax, Nova Scotia, shipowner, was awarded the first British transatlantic steamship mail contract, and the next year formed the British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company together with Robert Napier, the famous Scottish steamship engine designer and builder, to operate the line's four pioneer paddle steamers on the Liverpool–Halifax–Boston route. For most of the next 30 years, Cunard held the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic voyage. However, in the 1870s Cunard fell behind its rivals, the White Star Line and the Inman Line. To meet this competition, in 1879 the firm was reorganised as the Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd, to raise capital.In 1902 White Star joined the American-owned International Mercantile Marine Co.. In response, the British Government provided Cunard with substantial loans and a subsidy to build two superliners needed to retain Britain’s competitive position. Mauretania held the Blue Riband from 1909 to 1929. The sinking of her running mate Lusitania in 1915 was one of the causes of the United States' entering the First World War.
In 1919, Cunard relocated its British homeport from Liverpool to Southampton, to better cater for travellers from London. In the late 1920s, Cunard faced new competition when the Germans, Italians and French built large prestige liners. Cunard was forced to suspend construction on its own new superliner because of the Great Depression. In 1934 the British Government offered Cunard loans to finish Queen Mary and to build a second ship, Queen Elizabeth, on the condition that Cunard merged with the then ailing White Star line to form Cunard-White Star Line. Cunard owned two-thirds of the new company. Cunard purchased White Star's share in 1947; the name reverted to the Cunard Line in 1950.Upon the end of the Second World War, Cunard regained its position as the largest Atlantic passenger line. By the mid-1950s, it operated 12 ships to the United States and Canada. After 1958, transatlantic passenger ships became increasingly unprofitable because of the introduction of jet airliners. Cunard undertook a brief foray into air travel via the "Cunard Eagle" and "BOAC Cunard" airlines, but withdrew from the airliner market in 1966. Cunard withdrew from its year-round service in 1968 to concentrate on cruising and summer transatlantic voyages for vacationers. The Queens were replaced by Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2), which was designed for the dual role.In 1998 Cunard was acquired by the Carnival Corporation, and accounted for 8.7% of that company's revenue in 2012. In 2004, QE2 was replaced on the transatlantic runs by Queen Mary 2 (QM2). The line also operates Queen Victoria (QV) and Queen Elizabeth (QE). As of 2019, Cunard is the only shipping company to operate a scheduled passenger service between Europe and North America.DN postcode area
The DN postcode area, also known as the Doncaster postcode area, is a group of 32 postcode districts in England, which are subdivisions of 13 post towns. These postcode districts cover eastern South Yorkshire (including Doncaster), north Lincolnshire (including Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Barnetby, Barrow upon Humber, Barton-upon-Humber, Brigg, Cleethorpes, Gainsborough, Immingham and Ulceby), small parts of Nottinghamshire (including Retford) and the East Riding of Yorkshire (including Goole), and a very small part of North Yorkshire.
The S64 postcode district for Mexborough was originally earmarked as DN13, which has never been used. Otherwise, the area's districts are numbered sequentially up to DN22, then from DN31 to DN41 for the eastern spur of the area, in and around Grimsby.
There is one non-geographic district, DN55, which has a single purpose use to Royal Mail.General Post Office
The General Post Office (GPO) was officially established in England in 1660 by Charles II and it eventually grew to combine the functions of state postal system and telecommunications carrier. Similar General Post Offices were established across the British Empire. In 1969 the GPO was abolished and the assets transferred to The Post Office, changing it from a Department of State to a statutory corporation. In 1980, the telecommunications and postal sides were split prior to British Telecommunications' conversion into a totally separate publicly owned corporation the following year as a result of the British Telecommunications Act 1981. For the more recent history of the postal system in the United Kingdom, see the articles Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd.
Originally, the GPO was a monopoly covering the despatch of items from a specific sender to a specific receiver, which was to be of great importance when new forms of communication were invented. The postal service was known as the Royal Mail because it was built on the distribution system for royal and government documents. In 1661 the office of Postmaster General was created to oversee the GPO.List of postcode areas in the United Kingdom
The list of postcode areas in the United Kingdom is a tabulation of the postcode areas used by Royal Mail for the purposes of directing mail within the United Kingdom. The postcode area is the largest geographical unit used and forms the initial characters of the alphanumeric UK postcode. There are currently 121 geographic postcode areas in use in the UK and a further 3 often combined with these covering the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man.London Grand Prix
The London Athletics Grand Prix is an annual athletics event held in London, England.
Previously one of the five IAAF Super Grand Prix events, it is now part of the IAAF Diamond League. Until 2012 all editions were held at the National Sports Centre in Crystal Palace. The 2013 edition was known as the Anniversary Games as it took place at the Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, exactly one year after the Olympic Games were held in the same venue and have been followed by an IPC London Grand Prix, making it a three-day event. In 2014 the meet was held in Glasgow, Scotland, as preparation for the Commonwealth Games held there later that month.Parcelforce
Parcelforce Worldwide is a courier and logistics service in the United Kingdom. Parcelforce Worldwide is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd., and is organised within the UK Parcels, International and Letters division of the group. The company delivers to destinations worldwide, using an international partner network.
Its European delivery partner, General Logistics Systems (GLS), is also a subsidiary of Royal Mail and delivers more than one million parcels a day across 34 countries in Europe. Parcelforce Worldwide is a direct competitor of other worldwide delivery brands, such as DHL, DX Group, FedEx and UPS.
Parcelforce Worldwide operates a "hub and spoke" collection and delivery system with two hubs based at Coventry, adjacent to the airport. One hub is for parcels for the United Kingdom, and the other for international parcels. The hub of the United Kingdom, one of the country's largest buildings, is a highly automated tracking and sorting centre covering 24,000 square metres (5.9 acres) and can handle up to 58,500 parcels an hour.Post Office Ltd
Post Office Ltd (Welsh: Swyddfa’r Post Cyf.; Scottish Gaelic: Oifis a' Phuist) is a retail post office company in the United Kingdom that provides a wide range of products including postage stamps and banking to the public through its nationwide network of post office branches. The company is owned by the British Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, through Postal Services Holding Company Limited.Post town
A post town is a required part of all postal addresses in the United Kingdom, and a basic unit of the postal delivery system. Including the correct post town in the address increases the chance of a letter or parcel being delivered on time. Post towns in general originated as the location of delivery offices. As of 2004, their main function is to distinguish between locality or street names in addresses not including a postcode.Postal Museum, London
The Postal Museum (formerly the British Postal Museum & Archive) is a postal museum run by the Postal Heritage Trust. It began in 2004 as The British Postal Museum & Archive and opened in Central London as The Postal Museum on 28 July 2017.Postal counties of the United Kingdom
The postal counties of the United Kingdom, now known as former postal counties, were postal subdivisions in routine use by the Royal Mail until 1996. The purpose of the postal county – as opposed to any other kind of county – was to aid the sorting of mail by differentiating between like-sounding post towns. Since 1996 this has been done by using the outward code (first half) of the postcode instead. For operational reasons the former postal counties, although broadly based on the counties of the United Kingdom, did not match up with their boundaries: in some cases there were significant differences. The boundaries changed over time as post towns were created or amended.
According to the Royal Mail, the former postal county data no longer forms part of postal addresses. It was removed from the Postcode Address File database in 2000 and does not form part of its code of practice for changing addresses. Despite this, county data is routinely sold to companies, ostensibly to let them cleanse their own address data. As the former postal county data was the last to be in routine use, some organisations have continued to use this obsolete data as part of postal addresses. In 2009 the Royal Mail code of practice consultation included discussion of the possible replacement of the currently supplied 'alias data' with an up-to-date county information data field. In 2010 the regulator advised Royal Mail to cease supply of county data altogether and a timetable was put in place for this to occur between 2013 and 2016.Postcode Address File
The Postcode Address File (PAF) is a database that contains all known "Delivery Points" and postcodes in the United Kingdom. The PAF is a collection of over 29 million Royal Mail postal addresses and 1.8 million postcodes. It is available in a variety of formats including FTP download and compact disc, and was previously available as Digital Audio Tape. As owner of the PAF, Royal Mail is required by section 116 of the Postal Services Act 2000 to maintain the data and make it available on reasonable terms. A charge is made for lookup services or wholesale supply of PAF data. Charges are regulated by Ofcom. It includes Small User Residential, Small User Organisation and Large User Organisation details. There have been requests as part of the Open Data campaign for the PAF to be released by the government free of charge.Postcodes in the United Kingdom
Postal codes used in the United Kingdom are known as postcodes (originally postal codes). They are alphanumeric and were adopted nationally between 11 October 1959 and 1974, having been devised by the General Post Office (Royal Mail). A full postcode is known as a "postcode unit" and designates an area with a number of addresses or a single major delivery point.The structure of a postcode is that of two alphanumeric codes, the first made up of between two and four characters, and the second made up of three characters. First, one or two letters indicate the city or region, followed by one or two digits signifying a locality/ area or neighbourhoods in that city/ region. This is followed by a space and then a number and two letters which are allocated to streets, and sides of the street.
The central part of the city or region a.k.a the city centre/ town centre will have the number 1 designation alongside the city code e.g. B1 (Birmingham), LS1 (Leeds), M1 (Manchester) - all central addresses. As a general rule, a higher number indicates distance from that centre. See postcode area.
Postcodes have been adopted for a wide range of purposes in addition to aiding the sorting of the mail: for calculating insurance premiums, designating destinations in route planning software and as the lowest level of aggregation in census enumeration. The boundaries of each postcode unit and within these the full address data of currently about 29 million addresses (delivery points) are stored, maintained and periodically updated in the Postcode Address File database.The initial system of named postal districts, developed in London and other large cities from 1857, evolved towards the present form: in 1917 London was split into broad numbered subdivisions, and this extended to the other cities in 1934. After the reorganisation of London in the 1960s, many parts of the city now lie outside the traditional postcode zone. This includes, but is not limited to, large parts of the "TW" "KT" "SM" "CR" "HA" and "UB" postcode areas, among a few others.
As examples of the postcode system, the postcode of the University of Roehampton in London is SW15 5PU, where SW stands for south-west London, and the postcode of GCHQ is GL51 0EX, where GL signifies the postal area of Gloucester. The postal town can be a wide area and does not relate to a specific town, county or region. GL51 is one of the postcodes for the town of Cheltenham (in Gloucestershire).
Theoretically, deliveries can reach their destination using the house number (or name if the house has no number) and post code alone; however, this is against Royal Mail guidelines, which request the use of a full address at all times.Royal Mail Ship
Royal Mail Ship (sometimes Steam-ship or Steamer), usually seen in its abbreviated form RMS, is the ship prefix used for seagoing vessels that carry mail under contract to the British Royal Mail. The designation dates back to 1840. Any vessel designated as "RMS" has the right to fly both the pennant of the Royal Mail when sailing and to include the Royal Mail "crown" insignia with any identifying device and/or design for the ship.It was used by many shipping lines, but is often associated in particular with the White Star Line, Cunard Line, Royal Mail Lines and Union-Castle Line, which held a number of high-profile mail contracts, and traditionally prefixed the names of many of their ships with the initials "RMS".
While some lines in the past, particularly the Royal Mail Lines, called all their ships "RMS", technically a ship would use the prefix only while contracted to carry mail, and would revert at other times to a standard designation such as "SS".Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was a British shipping company founded in London in 1839 by a Scot, James MacQueen. The line's motto was Per Mare Ubique (everywhere by sea). After good and bad times it became the largest shipping group in the world in 1927 when it took over the White Star Line.
The company was liquidated and its assets taken over by the newly formed Royal Mail Lines in 1932 after financial trouble and scandal; over the years RML declined to no more than the name of a service run by former rival Hamburg Süd.TN postcode area
The TN postcode area, also known as the Tunbridge Wells postcode area, is a group of 40 postcode districts in England, which are subdivisions of 24 post towns. These postcode districts cover south Kent (including Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Ashford, Sevenoaks, Cranbrook, Edenbridge, New Romney, Romney Marsh and Tenterden) and northern and eastern East Sussex (including Hastings, Battle, Bexhill-on-Sea, Crowborough, Etchingham, Hartfield, Heathfield, Mayfield, Robertsbridge, Rye, St Leonards-on-Sea, Uckfield, Wadhurst and Winchelsea). Additionally, small parts of TN14 and TN16 cover the rural southern part of the London Borough of Bromley, while TN16 also covers the village of Tatsfield which, although in the county of Surrey, has a Kent postal address.
Mail for this area is sorted at the Royal Mail Sorting Office in Rochester, which also sorts all mail from the adjoining ME postcode area.
Postal administrations of Europe