Post Office Ltd is a retail post office company in the United Kingdom that provides a wide range of products including postage stamps and banking to the public through its nationwide network of post office branches.
Post Office branches, along with the Royal Mail delivery service, were formerly part of the General Post Office and after 1969, the Post Office corporation. Post Office Counters Ltd was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Post Office in 1986. After the Post Office statutory corporation was changed to a public company, Royal Mail Group, in 2001, Post Office Counters Ltd became Post Office Ltd.
Post Office Ltd has, in recent years, announced losses, with a reported £102 million lost in 2006. This has raised many concerns in the media regarding Post Office Ltd's ability as a company to operate efficiently. Plans to cut the £150m-a-year subsidy for rural post offices led to the announcement that 2,500 local post offices were to be closed. This announcement resulted in a backlash from local communities that relied on the service.
In 2007, the government gave a £1.7 billion subsidy to Royal Mail Group so that it could turn a profit by 2011. This was to be used to invest across the whole network of Royal Mail, Post Office Ltd and Parcelforce. 85 Crown post offices were closed, 70 of which were sold to WHSmith. This followed a trial of six Post Office outlets in WHSmith stores. WHSmith was expected to make up to £2.5 million extra in annual profit. 2,500 sub-post offices closed between 2008 and 2009. Redundancy packages were provided from public funding (subpostmasters were paid over 20 months salary, roughly £65,000 each).
In November 2010, the government committed £1.34 billion of funding up to 2015 to Post Office Ltd to enable it to modernise the Post Office network.
As part of the Postal Services Act 2011, Post Office Ltd became independent of Royal Mail Group on 1 April 2012. A ten-year inter-business agreement was signed between the two companies to allow post offices to continue issuing stamps and handling letters and parcels for Royal Mail. The Act also contained the option for Post Office Ltd to become a mutual organisation in the future.
On 8 February 2013, Post Office Ltd announced it was planning to move around seventy of its Crown post offices into shops. This would reduce the Crown network, which it stated was losing £40 million a year, to around 300.
On 27 November 2013, the government committed an additional £640 million of funding for 2015 to 2018 to allow Post Office Ltd to complete its network modernisation.
In April 2016, the Post Office agreed to hand over up to 61 more branches to WHSmith in a 10-year deal. The deal was condemned as "blatant back-door privatisation" by the Communications Workers Union.