The direct marketing industry has largely welcomed this week’s
announcement by the Trade and Industry Secretary, Peter Mandelson, that
the Post Office will not be privatised but granted greater commercial
In a statement made to Parliament on Monday, Mandelson outlined a
package of reforms. He said: ’We do not rule out making further changes
to equip the Post Office for success, such as minority share sale or an
exchange of equity with other businesses. In the long term, this also
means bringing in legislation to turn the Post Office into a PLC.’
A key element of the package is the commitment to install a ’tough, new
independent regulator to protect customer interests, regulate prices and
enforce fair competition’.
The direct marketing industry has long been concerned that if the Post
Office were given greater commercial freedom it would be allowed to
abuse its monopoly to deprive traditional direct-mail service providers
of business, unless a regulator was put in place immediately.
WWAV Rapp Collins welcomed the recognition of the need for a strong
regulator, but expressed concern that the Post Office could operate with
greater commercial freedom for a year before a regulator could be put in
place to oversee its activities.
John Watson, chairman of WWAV, commented: ’The Department of Trade and
Industry - which is supposed to police the Post Office - cannot be an
independent, effective regulator.’