Post Office Ltd is considering a request from Tesco to install its new Post Office Local model in all 617 Tesco-owned One Stop stores.
Speaking at a BIS Select Committee hearing on the Network Transformation Programme, Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells said that Tesco was keen to offer the Local model in all of its One Stop stores. The model is currently in 25 One Stop outlets, more than any other multiple operator.
Vennells said the request was made in a recent meeting with Tesco and postal affairs minister Norman Lamb.
National Federation of SubPostmasters general secretary George Thomson cautioned against the move. “I’d warn the Post Office to be very careful that they don’t get into bed with Tesco, because Tesco is seen as actually damaging local retail and high streets,” he said.
During the same committee hearing, the Local model attracted criticism over safety and quality of service.
Mike O’Connor, chief executive at industry watchdog Consumer Focus, said problems had been reported with the new model. “We have found problems with the quality of advice and product availability,” he said. “A third of people told us that privacy was poor in PO Locals, with 19% reluctant to conduct high-value or confidential transactions.”
The Local offering is currently being trialled in 166 stores and will be rolled out to 2,000 branches over the next three years. It enables retailers to offer Post Office services through the main sales till rather than at a separate counter, allowing for longer opening hours and easier service. Operators can receive payments of up to £10,000 from the Post Office Ltd to fund the changeover.
A downloadable pack with more details on the Network Transformation Programme and an application form is available here.