Retailers have welcomed the decision to relocate 70 crown post offices into WH Smith high street stores.

The move follows the trial last year of Post Office franchises in six WH Smith stores, which was met by criticism and strike action by the Communication Workers Union, which claimed that jobs are lost and service suffers when crown offices are incorporated into smaller retail outlets.

C-store retailers, however, are adamant the move is a positive one, as it will cut the number of loss-making crown outlets at the same time as retaining a post office presence in the high street.

Stewert Waldron, post office controller at Spar retailer Tates, which operates 53 post offices, told Convenience Store: "It's an excellent move. WH Smith and the Post Office are a good mix as they are both trusted brands.

"The move will enable the Post Office's overheads to be reduced and allow the Post Office to invest the money it's saving to offer better rates for c-store operations. If a few more crown offices can be incorporated into high street stores then it will create a healthier network."

Dean Holborn owns Holborn's village store and post office in South Nutfield, Surrey. He said: "The money the Post Office saves from no longer operating loss-making crown offices could strengthen the network. The branch close to us in Redhill is going to move into a WH Smith. I hope it won't be able to cope with all the business and that customers could be pushed towards using rural post offices such as ours."

Post Office managing director Alan Cook added: "Crucially for us, the partnership will help put the crown office network on a sound financial footing after years of heavy losses."

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