Australia Post lost its second-in-charge, chief operating officer Ewen Stafford, on the same day as the national carrier announced an unprecedented $222 million loss.
Long-time COO Stafford, regarded as the right-hand man of Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour, resigned on Friday after five years in the job and will leave at the end of the year. He’s the latest executive to resign from the postal group and follows the departure of Tracey Fellows to become CEO at REA Group and Richard Umbers, now CEO of Myer.
Fahour announced Stafford’s exit in a letter to staff on Friday, shortly after revealing that the national carrier had posted its first annual loss in more than 30 years.
“With regulatory reform now in hand, and with our Part of Tomorrow transformation moving into a new phase that will see us take our place as a leader in eCommerce, Ewen has made the decision to leave so he can pursue new career opportunities,” Mr Fahour wrote to staff in an email obtained by The Australian Financial Review. “I want to congratulate Ewen on his contribution to Australia Post and at a personal level thank him for his support, counsel and camaraderie over what has been an incredibly productive five years,” said Fahour.
Earlier, in a statement, Fahour blamed a 10.3% drop in the posting of ordinary stamped letters in 2014-15 for a $222 million after-tax loss for the year, compared to a profit of $116 million the previous year. Losses in the mail business grew to $381 million. Group revenue remained stable at $6.37 billion, with parcels revenue up 3.6 per cent to $3.21 billion, for the first time delivering more than half of total revenue.
Despite the loss, Fahour said the business had made ‘headway’ in reforming the letters service and transitioning to an eCommerce business model, which would include partnerships with leading Chinese companies.
“Addressed letter volumes fell by 7.3 per cent, with ordinary stamped letters falling by 10.3 per cent, as Australians continue to switch to digital alternatives,” he said. “As we had forecast, this has been a challenging but crucial year of transition for our business, reflected in the numbers. We continue to make headway with reforming our letters business and we are investing in the infrastructure and digital capabilities – vital to servicing the changing needs of our customers. We are confident we have the resources, infrastructure and support in place to manage the ongoing transition of our letters business as we become a more eCommerce-centric organisation.”
Fahour said investments in eCommerce delivered this year included: expanded major parcels facilities in Sydney and Melbourne, doubling processing capacity at both sites; significant growth across the MyPost product offering, including the Digital Mailbox, with two million subscribers now registered; $125 million pledged in annualised payments over the past two years, to support the sustainability of our Licensed Post Offices and Community Postal Agencies; continued rollout of the 24/7 Parcel Lockers network and the introduction of extended post office trading hours and Saturday deliveries; further development on key strategic partnerships with leading Chinese companies to help grow eCommerce trade between the two nations.
Australia Post’s plan to increase the price of a stamp to $1 and raise bulk mail prices is now before the ACCC and continues to generate widespread opposition from the entire mailing industry.