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Postal firms told to tap new sectors for growth.

By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter

Along with exploring further scope for diversification of their existing products and services, postal corporations across the world should also make more efforts to increase the volume of parcels and packets handled, particularly at a time when there has been a steep fall in the number of mails at post offices, feel senior postal officials from Great Britain and Australia.

Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the 25th World Postal Congress yesterday, officials from Australia Post and the Royal Mail said there is still room for hope in improving the performance of the postal sector at the global level through diversification.

"The emergence of e-commerce in a big way across the world and the effective delivery of the end products through the postal channels have given a real boost to the industry as a whole," felt Head of Customs in the Royal Mail David Pilkington, who is leading his country's delegation at the ongoing Congress.

Echoing similar sentiments, General Manager (regulatory, international affairs and corporate affairs) of Australia Post Shane Morris and Manager (service performance and quality) Alan Smith said there should be more focus on e-commerce in the coming years as customers have a good understanding of its advantages, both financially and physically. Recalling the great strides made by e-commerce in the industry, in both Great Britain and Australia in the last few years, the three officials had a common opinion that it has contributed considerably to the postal sector's growth even after the economic slowdown which began four years ago.

"Even though there has been a steady fall in the number of mails since the extensive application of the Internet started nearly two decades ago, these days the industry is witnessing a huge growth in the number of parcels and packets," said Pilkington. While the parcels grew by about 15 % in Britain last year compared to the previous year, the total number of packets, both domestic and international, went up between 7 and 8%, he said.

The scenario is more or less the same in Australia as well, according to Morris and Smith. "There has been a significant rise in the volume of packets and parcels delivered in 2011, in comparison with the previous year even though there has been a fall in the mails handled in Australia as anywhere else," said Morris.

Smith felt such rise in the packets and parcels was possible only owing to the better quality standards adopted by Australia Post.

Pilkington said the business to and from Australia has supported the postal activities in Great Britain substantially even in the wake of the global financial turmoil. "There has been an enormous growth in the inquiries for parcel and packet deliveries from Australia in the last few years. As a result, the two segments grew remarkably in both the countries," he said.

Pressing the case for diversification in the industry from its current levels to make the global postal sector viable, Smith said the postal sector in many parts of the world has not been fully successful in tapping such areas as banking and logistics.

"The scope of banking as a whole is unlimited all over and there are several areas of finance which have not been effectively utilised by the postal corporations, even though a lot of developments have taken place in the information sector," said Smith.

While acknowledging that high fuel prices has its negative effects on the logistics sector throughout the world, Morris said the segment is expected to grow further owing to the growing investments in infrastructure everywhere. "Bearing this in mind, the Australian government has plans for an additional $800 million spending in the postal industry, a lion share of which is expected to go to the development of the logistics sector," he said.

The Australian officials said even though their country's postal sector employed only 33,000 personnel for its operations, Australia Post ensured that the addressee received mails in one of the fastest times. "As in Great Britain, the busiest period for our staffers is during the months of December and January when there is a five-fold or more increase in the quantum of articles dealt with."

Call to exploit philately market

Philately provides a lot of scope to those postal corporations aspiring to play a prominent role at the global level of postal activities, opined some of the delegates at the ongoing World Congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) at the Qatar National Convention Centre.

Recalling the good business recorded by their postal companies during almost all major events held in their countries in the last 15 years, postal officials from Great Britain and Australia said launches made by their postal corporations like commemorative stamps and souvenirs during occasions like Olympic Games and World Cup Cricket had generated considerable interest among the collectors of stamps, souvenirs and mementoes.

"Royal Mail released a series of stamps and other commemorative souvenirs as part of the Olympic Games last month and Paralympics held earlier this month. Each of the launches attracted worldwide attention among the philatelists and remarkable sales of the articles was recorded both within Great Britain and outside," recollected Head of Customs of Royal Mail David Pilkington. The patronage extended to the stamps and souvenirs was simply amazing during the Olympic Games during which several sport lovers visited Britain.

"Though we were not that successful as the Royal Mail during the Olympic build-up, reasonably good sales were recorded in Australia when we hosted the games in the year 2000," remembered General Manager (regulatory, international affairs and corporate affairs) of Australia Post Shane Morris.

The officials also made an appeal to the region's postal authorities to capitalise on the growing interest of the local population in philately.

Gulf Times Newspaper 2012

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 26, 2012
Words:969
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