Royal Mail sees profits increase four-fold during pandemic

Royal Mail saw profits increase four-fold during the year of Covid-19 as restrictions and lockdowns led to a surge in online shopping.

File photo of a postman wearing a mask and gloves to deliver letters in Broadstairs, Kent.

Bosses revealed pre-tax profits for the year to March hit £726 million – up from £180 million a year earlier – with revenues up 16.6% to £12.6 billion.

The former state-owned service added that parcel revenues rose 38.7%, offsetting a 12.5% fall in letters being sent.

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A 10p-a-share end-of-year dividend for shareholders was declared and the company said it was confident it could keep paying out future dividends of 20p-a-share from next year.

Royal Mail’s shift away from letters to focus on parcels was confirmed as the company revealed it generated more cash from parcel deliveries than letters for the first time in its history.

Parcels now account for 72% of revenues. Its European and US parcel business GLS also enjoyed a boost from the pandemic globally, with its revenues up 27.8% and more than half of its deliveries direct to consumers, compared with two-thirds coming from business-to-business customers.

Bosses added that despite the boosts in profits and revenues during the pandemic, they incurred significant additional costs due to Covid-19.

The company added that it does not expect the speed of parcel volumes to increase at the same levels once the pandemic is over but said it must be ready to capitalise on the shift to more online shopping.

It said: “Commercially we must adapt more quickly to the needs of customers and consumers, and finally deliver the long-promised changes on operational and cost transformation… Without these changes, we cannot be competitive into the future.”