Dublin, 3 February 2015
Minister for Communications, Alex White T.D. has launched the Post Office Network Business Development Group at Rathangan post office. The launch follows the first meeting of the Steering Group which was held last week. The group has been established by Minister White to explore potential commercial opportunities for post offices.
Minister White commented “I am delighted to formally launch the Post Office Network Business Development Group under the Chairmanship of Mr Bobby Kerr. The Group’s work will be of strategic importance to the future viability of the Post Office Network. I wish Bobby and the Group well in their deliberations and look forward to receiving their report later this year.”
Bobby Kerr is a well-known business man and the Chairman of Insomnia. He has many different business interests in the hotel, restaurant and food sectors. He has featured in the RTÉ programme Dragon’s Den since 2000 and presents Down to Business on Newstalk radio on Sunday mornings. On the creation of the group Mr Kerr remarked “I am really excited about taking on this challenge. Everyone is well aware of the difficulties that face postmasters around the country. The Business Development Group will work to find a suite of products and services for a modern Post Office which are customer focused and meet the needs of consumers in both urban and rural Ireland”.
Minister for Rural Affairs, Ann Phelan, TD who will sits on the committee, attended the launch and remarked “Post Offices are the fabric of our local Communities and they have a pivotal role to play in the revival of rural Ireland, our towns and villages. A proper strategy needs to be drawn up for the future sustainability of our post office network in our ever changing market space. I look forward to working closely with the IPU, An Post, my colleague Minister Alex White, TD; and with independent Chair, Bobby Kerr, over the coming months. ”
The Group was established after a review by the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy to explore potential commercial opportunities available to the post office network. The Group will engage with a variety of stakeholders including those in the public sector, commercial bodies, post office customers and other interested parties.
The Group’s membership is drawn from the Irish Postmasters Union (IPU), An Post, the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Bobby Kerr is acting as independent chair and will bring a wealth of business experience of knowledge to the Group. The group is expected to report back to Minister White in the Autumn.
Also present at the launch were Donal Connell, CEO of An Post, who commented that “An Post welcomes this initiative and looks forward to playing a full and active part in the work of the Post Office Network Business Development Group. We look forward to working with Mr Bobby Kerr to find new opportunities for the post office network to serve the needs of the 1.7 million customers who currently use the local post office each week as well as a new generation of customers”.
While the IPU President Ciarán McEntee said “in our view the Group must recognise the important social role which Post offices provide and the strong public support for keeping Post offices open. Post offices are at the heart of community. If an office closes, this is very often followed by other local business closures and the whole community loses out. In our view the Group should take a wide view and support communities by giving certainty to the future of Post Offices.”
Notes to Editors
The Terms of Reference for the Group are as follows:
· To examine the potential from existing and new Government and commercial business that could be transacted through the post office network.
· To identify the new business opportunities for the post office network, taking account of international experience.
· To engage as necessary with the public sector, commercial bodies and other interested parties in pursuit of the above objectives
· To prepare an interim and final report for the Minister in accordance with an agreed timetable.