Humbled Consignia reinvented as Royal Mail plc

Michael Harrison
Thursday 23 May 2002 00:00 BST

Consignia is to rename itself Royal Mail plc, reversing one of the most disastrous corporate rebrandings ever undertaken.

The name change is expected to be announced next month when the postal services group will report a £1.1bn loss for last year, a further 15,000 job losses and the departure of its chief executive, John Roberts.

The decision to scrap the Consignia name 16 months after it was unveiled to a bemused public, marks a humiliating about-turn for the organisation. The corporate makeover in January last year cost £2m and was defended by Mr Roberts on the grounds that it gave the old Post Office a "modern, meaningful and entirely appropriate" name suited to its goal of becoming an international postal operator.

"The new name describes the full scope of what the Post Office does in a way that the words 'post' and 'office' cannot," he added.

But the new name quickly became an albatross around Consignia's neck with losses mushrooming to more than £1m a day.

When the former Asda boss Allan Leighton took over as Consignia's chairman earlier this year, he made his dislike of the name clear.

Although the group will be renamed Royal Mail plc, its operating division's will continue to be known under their existing titles of Parcelforce and Post Office Limited, which runs the network of 18,000 branch post offices.

Consignia is understood to have concluded that the name Royal Mail is more appropriate, now that it has abandoned its plans for further overseas expansion in favour of concentrating on its loss-making core business in the UK. Last year Consignia made operating losses of about £370m. The rest of the £1.1bn bottom-line loss is made up of one-off charges, restructuring costs and write-downs.

Mr Roberts, who has been made a scapegoat by ministers in the eyes of many, is expected to confirm his intention of stepping down when a successor is found, which could take until the autumn.

The postal regulator Postcomm is due to unveil its final proposals for breaking up the Royal Mail's monopoly next Wednesday.

The proposals will be watered down following warnings that they could undermine the organisation's universal service obligation, allowing it more time to adjust to competition.

Consignia has already announced 15,000 job losses as part of a £1.2bn efficiency drive. The new cutbacks, involving an additional 15,000 job losses, will include the scrapping of second deliveries and later times for the new single delivery.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in