The postal sector remains essential to the UK economy, and effective retail competition in post plays a key role in ensuring that postal users and consumers benefit from lower prices, greater choice and innovation.
In recent years we have seen substantial growth in competition through access operations, where operators other than Royal Mail collect, sort and transport mail from bulk senders (such as bank statements, addressed marketing material and local government communications) before handing it to Royal Mail for final delivery.
We have also seen the introduction of end-to-end competition, where operators other than Royal Mail undertake the entire process of collecting, sorting and delivering mail to the intended recipients, which has the potential to extend the benefits of competition to a wider range of postal services. However, end-to-end competition is still in its infancy and represents less than 0.6% of total addressed mail.
Given that end-to-end competition remains reliant on Royal Mail access services to support delivery to those parts of the country where alternative delivery options are not available, we are concerned that Royal Mail has the incentive and ability to seek to disadvantage end-toend providers and undermine competition in the delivery of bulk mail to the detriment of postal users, and that investment by end-to-end competitors is undermined by uncertainty over the degree to which Royal Mail will act to their disadvantage.
This Consultation sets out our competition concerns in detail. It also sets out our proposed response to those concerns in the form of a draft set of new conditions on Royal Mail’s access services, which we consider would prevent Royal Mail from undermining end-to-end competition, while allowing it to continue to compete with end-to-end providers and ensure that it has the potential to receive a fair return from the use of its assets.
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