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Herna Verhagen, CEO of PostNL, has spoken out about the need to adjust delivery days to make the company's services future-proof.

PostNL is once again facing drastic changes amid financial challenges and persistent criticism of its services. The well-known Dutch postal service, which once started as a state-owned enterprise and has now evolved into a fully privatized company, is at a time when the price of a stamp is rising again, this time to 1,14 euros. The price increase comes at a time when PostNL reports a loss of 8 million euros in the first quarter of this year, a sharp drop compared to a profit of 4 million euros in the same period last year.

delivery days

The causes of this financial setback are multifaceted. On the one hand, PostNL has been experiencing a decline in the volume of sent material for years, a trend that is also visible in other European countries. This is mainly attributed to the digitalization of communication. Herna Verhagen, CEO of PostNL, has stated that this drop in volume is forcing them to take drastic measures, such as revising the delivery days. Where the Netherlands was used to the slogan 'in the mail today, delivered tomorrow', this is now shifting to 'delivered within two days' and possibly in the future to 'within three days'.

Herna Verhagen, CEO of PostNL, has spoken out about the need to adjust delivery days to make the company's services future-proof. In her statements, she emphasizes the importance of these adjustments for maintaining a reliable and accessible postal service.

"If we want to keep the post accessible and reliable, we must switch from 'in the post today, delivered tomorrow' to 'in the post today, delivered within two days' as soon as possible, and eventually 'delivered within three days' ."

However, these adjustments require changes to the legislation, because PostNL, as operator of the universal postal service (UPD) in the Netherlands, is bound by strict rules. The UPD obliges PostNL to deliver at least 95 percent of the letter mail from Tuesday to Saturday on the next delivery day. The company has previously received a fine of 2 million euros from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) for non-compliance with these delivery times.

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Herna Verhagen
Photo: Herna Verhagen, CEO of PostNL

The CEO hopes that politicians will cooperate to realize the necessary legal changes so that the company can continue to operate efficiently within the limits of what consumers find acceptable.

Financially, the company has tried to manage rising costs by, for example, no longer delivering mail on Mondays, given the low supply on that day. This measure was taken to ensure that the cost of a stamp does not increase further than necessary. However, recently concluded collective labor agreement negotiations with trade unions FNV, CNV and BVPP, in which postal workers will receive a 19 percent wage increase in steps, will undoubtedly lead to further financial pressure on the company.

The criticism of PostNL is not only limited to the financial and operational aspects within the Netherlands. The company is facing legal challenges in Belgium. The Belgian Public Prosecution Service is demanding a fine of more than 24 million euros against the Belgian branch of PostNL for the illegal use of subcontractor personnel, which involved serious abuses such as the use of drivers without a driver's license and underage workers who worked too long hours.

This combination of operational, financial and legal challenges places a heavy burden on PostNL's management. Herna Verhagen, once declared the most powerful woman in the Netherlands, emphasizes in a video message the need to adapt services to current reality.

shareholders

The role of shareholders is crucial in PostNL's business operations, especially in times of financial challenges and strategic revisions such as now. PostNL's prominent shareholders include Vesa Equity Investment, Talpa Beheer BV, and BlackRock Inc. These shareholders have significant influence on the company's policy through their participation in the capital and the strategic direction determined during shareholder meetings.

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Vesa Equity Investment, an investment firm founded by Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský, is known for its involvement in several major European companies. Vesa's investment strategy is typically focused on acquiring significant, influential positions within their portfolio companies, giving them a powerful voice in strategic decisions.

Talpa Beheer BV, founded by Dutch media tycoon John de Mol, also has a history of active involvement in the companies in which it invests. Talpa's influence in strategic decisions can lead to important changes in direction, especially when it comes to corporate communications and marketing strategies, given the company's background in media and entertainment.

BlackRock Inc., one of the largest asset managers in the world, is known for its focus on sustainable investment practices. Their involvement with PostNL can influence how the company aligns its operational and strategic decisions with long-term goals, including sustainability and social responsibility.

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