Royal Mail axing 2,000 management jobs in cost-cutting drive

Around 2,000 management jobs at being axed at Royal Mail as it looks to slash costs in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 8:48 am
Updated Thursday, 25th June 2020, 8:50 am
Royal Mail axing 2,000 management jobs in cost-cutting drive
Royal Mail axing 2,000 management jobs in cost-cutting drive

The group said the job cuts come as part of a management overhaul under plans to save £330 million over the next two years.

The cull will affect some of its 9,700 managers, with senior executive and non-operational roles hardest hit.

Royal Mail is one of a raft of companies in the UK to announce hefty job losses due to the pandemic, including British Gas owner Centrica and airlines easyJet and British Airways.

Keith Williams, interim executive chairman at Royal Mail Group, said the firm is taking “immediate action” on costs to offset the Covid-19 impact.

He said: “In recent years, our UK business has not adapted quickly enough to the changes in our marketplace of more parcels and fewer letters.

“Covid-19 has accelerated those trends, presenting additional challenges.”

On the job cuts, he said: “We are committed to conducting the upcoming consultation process carefully and sensitively.

“We will work closely with our managers and their representatives during this difficult period.”

The job cuts will affect nearly half of Royal Mail’s senior managers, while it will see a 20% reduction in management roles across office functions and 10% drop in frontline operational management.

It aims to take a “phased approach” to the redundancies but all are set to take place by the end of next March.

Details of the job cuts came as Royal Mail posted a 13.6% fall in group underlying operating profits to £325 million for the year to March 29 – but its core Royal Mail division suffered a 41.2% plunge in earnings.

Shares fell 6% as it also warned it could take a revenues hit of up to £600 million if Britain suffers a deep and longer lasting recession caused by the pandemic – a scenario where gross domestic product (GDP) falls by 15% across 2020-21.

It said this would also see it take £155 million of costs related to the crisis and £110 million due to surging numbers of parcel deliveries.

Even in the less gloomy scenario where GDP falls by 10% over 2020-21 and lockdown restrictions continue to ease, Royal Mail still sees a revenues impact of up to £250 million and £250 million in extra costs.

Royal Mail said executive directors and Royal Mail executives will forgo annual bonuses for 2019-20 and no shareholder dividends will be paid for the year ahead.

Royal Mail saw former chief executive Rico Back quit unexpectedly last month after less than two years in the job and battles with unions.

He was replaced on an interim basis by chairman Keith Williams.

Full-year results showed underling pre-tax profits slumped 31% to £275 million.

The earnings drop came even after its better performing international ground-based parcel arm GLS saw a 17.5% hike to £208 million.

The company was unable to take advantage of a massive spike in parcels being sent through the post during lockdown.

In April Royal Mail’s frontline workers braved the pandemic to deliver 36 million more parcels.

But social distancing ate through the benefit at Royal Mail as costs were sent soaring.