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Meal delivery should become “the primary activity of postmen” for La Poste in 10 years

Faced with the drastic decline in mail, La Poste is reinventing itself and estimates that in ten years, "the first activity of the 65,000 French postmen" will be the delivery of meals to the home, a diversification activity on which it is positioning itself in strength, with the package.

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Meal delivery should become “the primary activity of postmen” for La Poste in 10 years

Faced with the drastic decline in mail, La Poste is reinventing itself and estimates that in ten years, "the first activity of the 65,000 French postmen" will be the delivery of meals to the home, a diversification activity on which it is positioning itself in strength, with the package. “We hold our public service missions” but “they are under tension”: Philippe Wahl, the CEO of La Poste questioned on Wednesday by senators, gave some striking figures to show the reality of the letter market. In 1990, “70% of La Poste's turnover” was carried by mail, a rate which will fall “to 15% at the end of the year” 2024, he reminded the parliamentarians of the committee finances.

A considerable drop in mail over the past ten years which has caused a hole of more than 6 billion euros in La Poste's turnover, i.e. "the equivalent (of) RATP or Dassault Systèmes", has compared Philippe Wahl. This change in French habits has pushed the group to transform its model to become less dependent on its mail activity. The challenge is that the 65,000 postmen of La Poste “remain in the service of the country, even when there are no more letters,” Philippe Wahl further detailed on Wednesday.

Also read: Higher prices, service fees… The meal delivery blues

A “strategic bet” that La Poste “is winning with (delivery) of packages and meals,” reassured Philippe Wahl. Today, the parcel activity “does not compensate for the letter”, but Colissimo, Chronopost and DPD are “by far” the most important players on the market in France, allowing La Poste to take 67% of the domestic market share of package delivery. In addition to parcels, La Poste is positioning itself strongly in the home meal delivery market, a growing sector with the aging population, and which also allows La Poste to offer a local service.

In 2035, Philippe Wahl projects, “I think that in France, (the delivery of) meals will be the primary activity of postmen”. Mainly aimed at seniors, this service operates via a partnership with municipal social action centers (CCAS), hospitals and even specialized restaurateurs. La Poste today delivers “more than 15,000 meals per day” for a market of 150,000 daily meals, which makes it “the leading operator”, affirmed Philippe Wahl. In 2023, it delivered 5 million and intends to double this figure in 2024.

The CEO was questioned at length by parliamentarians on the closures of post offices, currently numbering 7,000 and less and less frequented. “We are in consultation” with local elected officials on this issue, insisted Philippe Wahl, recalling that a contract linked La Poste to the Association of Mayors of France. “We do not have the right to transform a post office into a QPV (priority district of city policy, editor’s note) if the mayor does not agree,” he stressed.

To illustrate the drop in attendance at La Poste contact points, Philippe Wahl took the example of municipal postal agencies: “In 40% of the cases of our municipal postal agencies - particularly rural ones - there are less than 5 people per day ". Still on the question of proximity, “we are going to launch” the “yellow trucks”, multi-service mobile offices in rural mode, Philippe Wahl once again promised. The latter should hit the road at the end of April, said La Poste.

Finally, Philippe Wahl recalled that La Poste will be a candidate for its own succession as “postal operator”. The universal postal service - basic services, including collection and distribution six days a week - has been entrusted to La Poste, but its mandate ends at the end of 2025.

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