At La Poste, behind the end of the red stamp, a vital change of model

In the vicinity of Blois (Loir-et-Cher), January 20, 2023.

La Poste du Louvre in central Paris was, for more than a century, France’s best known: open 24 hours a day, the 32,000 square meter building was the last chance for latecomers of the tax return. Now completely renovated, it houses a 5-star hotel, a daycare center, shared workspaces, a rooftop bar, as well as a post office, in which the visitor finds many more touch screens than postal workers. And, since 1er January, not a single red stamp.

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The latter, removed, gives way to the “red e-letter”, halfway between e-mail and sending under cover. A shift that earned La Poste mockery and protests. In the Senate, the elected communist of Dordogne Marie-Claude Varaillas denounced “one more step towards the disintegration of the public service”while, on Twitter, the secretary general of Renaissance, Stéphane Séjourné, underlined the risk of seeing the public group modernize to the detriment [des personnes] most [âgées], most [éloignées] computer or more [isolées] on the territory “.

To these concerns, La Poste responds by changing uses: 75 million priority letters sent by individuals in 2022, i.e. barely three or four red stamps per household and per year, that is fourteen times less than in 2010 . A decrease quite dizzying »observes Philippe Dorge, the deputy general manager, in charge of the services-mail-parcels branch. “We are talking about a use that is disappearing », he adds. He recalls that the end of the stamped “D + 1” will improve the group’s carbon footprint, by eliminating three air connections and three hundred journeys by road each day.

Marlène Thévenin, “rolling” mail carrier, here on the mail preparation and distribution platform in Blois (Loir-et-Cher), January 20, 2023. Today, a large part of the work of mail carriers no longer consists to deliver mail, but parcels.

In 2030, we plan to process still more than three billion letters, but it will be twice less than today and three times less than in 2008 », summarizes Mr. Dorge. Consequence: if the French continue to open their mailbox every day, it risks being empty more and more often. This development can already be seen in the company’s accounts: in the first half of 2022, mail turnover, at 3.6 billion euros, represented just over 20% of the group’s total, compared to 42% for GeoPost, the “parcel” branch, which brings together Chronopost and DPD, among others, and 24% for La Banque Postale, the banking and insurance division. Ten years earlier, mail still generated more than half of revenue.

The challenge of the current change is therefore to continue the delivery of mail “at an acceptable price”notes Mr. Dorge, while continuing to provide the “universal postal service” six days a week, imposed on the group by law, but whose losses reached 1.3 billion euros in 2021.

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