C-store retailers have defended their record on running post offices ahead of anticipated strike action by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) over downsizing to small stores.

Union bosses are angry at a Post Office decision to downsize six Post Offices across England and Wales and move them into WH Smith stores. It claims jobs are lost and "service suffers" when crown offices are incorporated into smaller retail outlets.

But retailers have rubbished the suggestion, and say they can offer as good a service within a c-store set-up.
Spar retailer Tates operates 53 post offices from its stores. Tates post office controller Stewert Waldron believes the post office stores, the largest of which has six counters, perform well and provide a much-needed service to the communities they serve.

Waldron told Convenience Store: "Staff at our post offices offer just as good a service and it is an insult to suggest they can't. The fact is that many crown offices are under-performing because they have such high staff budgets. We take on staff from standalone post offices when we incorporate them into a store, but on our terms. 

"We also always make sure our post office staff are fully trained. I see no reason why smaller stores shouldn't replace larger ones if it's a means of securing the future of the Post Office."

Botterills managing director Lizette Craig added: "Most retailers who take on post offices take them very seriously. Our customers will tell you that they've actually seen an improvement in the service they receive thanks to the improved opening hours and convenience. 

"We offer an identical service, and a lot of our managers have worked in crown post offices in the past."
As Convenience Store went to press, CWU officials were expecting an overwhelming yes vote in favour of strike action.