Departing National Federation of Subpostmasters general secretary Colin Baker has called on the government and Post Office Ltd to secure new business opportunities for the post office network.
Baker, who is retiring after 16 years as general secretary, has been involved with the Federation for 27 years. Current executive officer George Thompson will replace him in May.
Baker told Convenience Store that the past few years had been the hardest for the Federation's members. He added that work must continue to find new services for the network.
"We've had to rise to a number of challenges, with the government looking to save money and increasing competition from areas such as the internet," he said.
"I'm happy that I am stepping down this year rather than last, now that we have forced the Department for Work and Pensions to change its mind and continue to offer the Post Office Card Account. There's still a lot of work to be done, though.
"What we need now is talk of new work coming to post offices. The Federation needs to build a future for the network."
Referring to the government announcement that 2,500 post offices will be closed, Baker said that the Federation abhorred closures but acknowledged that the network could not be expected to continue in its current situation.
He added: "Nobody likes closures, but at the same time we recognise that the network is not sustainable as it stands. This is a better option than a slow death and gives subpostmasters the chance to close with a compensation package."