Royal Mail revenue and profit rises as it continues with cost-cutting measures

 
Caitlin Morrison
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Until the Christmas numbers are in, Royal Mail doesn't like to say what it expects for the full year results (Source: Getty)

Royal Mail delivered an increase in revenue and profit in the 26 weeks to 25 September, but said the full-year performance is very much dependent on what happens over the busy festive period.

The figures

Royal Mail grew revenue by one per cent on an underlying basis in the first half of the year, from £4.4bn to £4.6bn.

Operating profit before transformation costs dipped by five per cent to £320m from £342m, while profit before tax was up to £252m from £240m.

Earnings per share rose to 19.2p from 18.1p.

The company increased the interim dividend slightly, bringing it to 7.4p from 7p.

Shares in the group dropped by 3.65 per cent in early trading.

Why it's interesting

The British institution is celebrating its half-millenium this year – but it's also in the middle of a huge transformation. The turnaround involves making drastic cuts to costs, and today the firm said it has increased its cost avoidance target from £500m to £600m of annualised costs cumulative over the three financial years ending 2017-18.

The group said it wants save around £225m in UK parcels, international and letters (UKPIL) operating costs in 2016-17.

Royal Mail also said it is "past the peak of investment", with net cash investment expected to be no more than £500m per annum, compared with an average of £615m over the past three years.

The group did not mention its pension scheme in today's results – in August, Royal Mail warned workers and trade unions that the scheme would be "unaffordable" in two years time.

What Royal Mail said

"Our performance was broadly in line with our expectations," said chief executive Moya Greene.

"We delivered UK parcel volume and revenue growth including new contract wins. Addressed letter volume decline was within our forecast range.

"As always, our performance for the full year will be dependent on the important Christmas period. Extensive planning, which began in the spring, will help us to manage our busiest time."

Last year, Royal Mail's performance for the full 12 month period was given the push it needed to meet expectations by a strong showing over Christmas.

In short

The numbers for the first half weren't bad, but Royal Mail won't be truly celebrating a good 500th year until the Christmas performance is signed, sealed and delivered.

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