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La Poste caught in headwinds in 2023

2023 has been eventful for La Poste.

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La Poste caught in headwinds in 2023

2023 has been eventful for La Poste. From January 1, the removal of the traditional red stamp, replaced by a hybrid system not shining with its simplicity, created controversy on the theme of the abandonment of public services. The fact remains that this choice made it possible to save 96 million euros, notably in transport costs, as management underlined during the publication of the annual accounts this Thursday. The company must adapt to the decline of the letter: the number of letters exchanged fell by another 9.2% last year in France. “Last year, mail only represented 16% of our turnover,” recalls Philippe Wahl, the group’s CEO. It was 37% in 2008.

More significantly, the group had to face difficulties last year in two activities - parcels and the financial division - which are its growth drivers. After the effect of the post-Covid return to stores, this time it is the crisis in purchasing power which weighed on e-commerce sales. The Geopost subsidiary, present in delivery in France and in many countries, paid the price. The volume of packages it delivered in 2023 decreased slightly (-1%), and its turnover stagnated (0.2% organically). In France, Colissimo's activity held up better (2.5% turnover).

And while the delivery sector is returning to normal after the pandemic boom and is restructuring, the management of La Poste preferred to abandon certain activities. The group thus sold Stuart, specialized in urgent urban racing, to the German fund Mutares. “We couldn’t find a balance against Uber Eats or Deliveroo,” said Philippe Wahl. The group has also closed Urby, a small subsidiary active in low-carbon urban logistics. “For this activity to work, ZFEs (low-emission zones in cities) would have had to develop further,” specifies the CEO.

Same thing on the financial center. At the end of the year, La Poste launched a project to “cease the activities” of Ma French Bank, its 100% online bank. The latter “has not achieved profitability and has not yet found its economic model,” the group recognized at the time. If the operation were to go ahead, customers would have to be redirected to La Banque Postale, and employees reintegrated into the group. More generally, Banque Postale went through a bad patch last year, due to poor risk management. This resulted in the departure of its leader, Philippe Heim, in August. If the bank achieved a positive net result in 2023 and a growing net banking income (equivalent to turnover), it is thanks to the solid performance of its subsidiary CNP Assurances. Stéphane Dedeyan, the new boss of La Banque Postale, must present his roadmap on Friday.

Overall, it is the dynamism of CNP Assurances, which generated 1.5 billion euros in profit in 2023, and that, to a lesser extent, of digital-related activities (digital safe, electronic signature, cybersecurity, consulting). in digital transformation...) which supported the La Poste group last year. So much so that its turnover increased by a total of 1.7% organically, to 34.1 billion euros, and its net profit was positive at 514 million euros.

“We made arbitrations, made decisions last year. And we continue, with the proposed sale of La Poste Mobile (virtual telecoms operator with 2.3 million customers, 51% owned by La Poste, Editor's note),” underlines Philippe Wahl. If the takeover by Bouygues Telecom goes through, the group could pocket a nice sum, almost 500 million euros. “But that does not mean that we have given up on our diversification strategy, which remains essential given the decline in mail,” adds the manager. La Poste is still banking on the development of parcels, and is counting on a rebound in this activity in 2024. “E-commerce still has growth potential. In the United Kingdom, an advanced country, the volume of parcels is twice as large as in France. We have also invested in South-East Asia, the Gulf and Latin America,” explains Philippe Wahl. Refocused on its fundamentals, La Banque Postale should move forward.

Management still believes in the development of services related to aging. “We are experiencing strong growth in meal delivery, which is in line with our core business. We have dedicated tours in town, and joint with the deliveries of parcels and letters in sparsely populated areas, explains Philippe Wahl. Our local platform (Watching over my parents, other services, etc.) will eventually take off: we are the only ones with such a presence throughout the country.” The group has also created a Health center

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