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Royal Mail closes below 400p as FTSE dips after Hong Kong protests

It does not mean Vince Cable was right to dismiss the Royal Mail share surge following its flotation almost a year ago as "froth", but the company’s shares have now closed below 400p for the first time.

The price, down 1.6p at 398.4p, is still above the 330p at which the government sold shares which prompted accusations the company had been sold off too cheaply. But it is well below the closing peak of 615p reached in January.

Since then the company has come under pressure thanks to growing competition in the UK mail market. But the most recent falls follow warnings from rivals TNT and UK Mail, as well as confirmation the government will investigate the UK postal market. Ironically this investigation came about because Royal Mail complained it had to provide a universal postal service to the benefit of its rivals. It is due to report interim results next month, with analysts expecting flat profits of around £230m.

Read more: Royal Mail closes below 400p as FTSE dips after Hong Kong protests | Business | theguardian.com.

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UK: Mail union not amused as pet company releases treat for dogs called ‘Postman’s Leg’

POSTIES are barking mad after a dog bone called Postman’s Leg was launched in stores across Scotland.

They say the natural beef bone, more than a foot long, is making fun of dog attacks on postal workers.

But the manufacturers of the £1.49 treat insist the name is purely tongue-in-cheek and pet owners see the joke with several thousand of the bones sold every week.

A spokesman for the Communication Workers Union said: “Whilst we appreciate the intended humour in the name, over 26,000 postal workers have been attacked and injured by dogs in the last six years.

“Two postmen were nearly killed in attacks in 2007 and 2008, and many others have lost fingers and parts of limbs.

“Reckless and negligent owners who fail to act when their animals attack and injure postal workers or anyone visiting their home, can now face prosecution.”

More than 26,000 posties have been attacked since 2008

The Postman’s Leg bone is sold all over the UK and Europe and is produced by Dugdale Davies Pet Treats, based in Lancashire.

Read more: Mail union not amused as pet company releases treat for dogs called ‘Postman’s Leg’ – Daily Record.

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Ireland is just now getting around to introducing postal codes

Ireland is rare in the industrialized world in that it doesn’t have postal codes—at all. In the countryside, some places don’t have street names or house numbers even. But the country is moving from one of the world’s most opaque postal systems to one of the most detailed. Ireland’s upcoming postal code system will assign numbers to every home and business in the country at a cost of $32 million.

From spring 2015, 2.2 million households will have a unique seven-character number for their address in a system to be called Eircode. (Residents will have their new numbers sent to them by post, of course.) The government acknowledges that the system will make it easier to collect tax revenues, which has led to some grumbling about the real intentions.

Read more: Ireland is just now getting around to introducing postal codes – Quartz.

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Post office worker who stole from ill woman avoids jail

A former post office employee who wept as she begged a judge to refrain from sentencing her to jail has walked free from court.

Pamela Burch (42) took £7,500 from an account belonging to a woman with mental health problems. She was caught after a nurse reported her concerns to police.

At Downpatrick Crown Court yesterday Burch was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

The court was told the defendant had taken the money to pay for a lifestyle beyond her means, including foreign holidays and an expensive personalised registration plate for her car.

A nurse for the woman Burch took the money from went to the post office where the defendant worked – in her home village Ballywalter – and questioned her over the withdrawals.

Read more: Post office worker who stole from ill woman avoids jail – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.

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China opens express delivery market to “qualified” foreign companies

From China Daily:

Consumers will soon have a plethora of express delivery companies to choose from in China as the government has decided to open up the express delivery market to qualified foreign companies.

The decision to introduce more foreign investment in the sector was taken at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. The central government will create a business environment in which both domestic and foreign express companies can compete fairly, said a note released after the meeting. The enhanced competition will be an incentive for domestic companies to improve their operations and services, stimulate domestic demand and create more jobs, it said.

Leading overseas logistics companies have set their sights on the Chinese market as early as 2009, when the country’s new Postal Law was implemented. United Parcel Service of America Inc has received licenses to operate express services in 33 Chinese cities, and 19 of these were granted this year. Apart from the two major hubs in Shanghai and Shenzhen, UPS also has about 250 operating facilities throughout China.

UPS expressed confidence that the "continuous market opening would facilitate greater opportunities for business growth, especially among small and medium-sized customer segments, as this growth is critical for the connectivity and competitiveness of the economy".

FedEx Corp said that it has been working closely with the relevant authorities to obtain express delivery services permits ever since the new Postal Law came into effect. Regarding the further opening-up of the package express delivery market, FedEx said it would be operating domestic business as usual in China.

Read more: Express delivery sector opens up|Policies|chinadaily.com.cn.

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Postal revenue enhancement Russian style: selling booze on credit

As the US Postal Service tries to find sources of revenue to make up for the decline in first class mail, the Russian Post Office is apparently raking in big bucks rubles by letting pensioners buy booze on credit. Perhaps not surprisingly, some local authorities aren’t sure it’s such a great idea:

Buryatia’s legislature has voted to ban Russian Post from running a profitable sideline in the southern region — selling beer to make up for revenue shortages from its main postal business, a news report said Friday.

Post offices in Buryatia have been letting their customers run up a a tab for beer, to be paid out of pensions and social benefit payments that residents receive at the same post offices, regional lawmaker Sergei Mezenin told deputies ahead of the vote, local news portal Baikal Daily news reported.

The practice has contributed to getting Russians drunk and “negatively affects the image of the postal service,” Mezenin was quoted as saying.

Russian Post acquired a license for alcohol sales in 2013, and many of its offices around the country began offering beer and other drinks and household goods to keep their business afloat, Russian media has reported.

Read more: Buryutia Lawmakers Vote to Ban Sale of Beer in Russian Post Offices | News | The Moscow Times.

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Best excuse for not delivering a package: “Bear at Door”

A Vancouver area man recently found an attempted delivery notice in his mailbox that gave an interesting reason for the failed delivery:

M Fane on Twitter: "Ok, fair enough @canadapostcorp that’s a decent reason to not drop the package off at my door. http://t.co/ykAldpWpEP".

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Postie who dumped mail avoids prison because most of it was “junk”

250px-Royal_Mail.svgA postman who dumped thousands of letters over a four year period has avoided prison after a sheriff said the material was junk mail.

Kevin Ewing, 31, hid more than 5,000 items of mail between 2009 and 2014. He told Perth Sheriff Court he was finding it difficult to cope.

Ewing, from Perth, was caught after Royal Mail set up surveillance to monitor him.

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis sentenced Ewing to carry out 300 hours’ unpaid work.

She said: "It might be fair to say a significant number of these items might have ended up in the recycling anyway. It all falls within the category of what the public might call junk mail.

Read more: BBC News – Postman who dumped 'junk mail' avoids prison.

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Australia Post won’t divulge boss’s salary as letters profit dives 35 per cent

Australian Post has refused to reveal how much managing director Ahmed Fahour was paid last financial year, as it reported a 35 per cent slide in profit from its crumbling letters delivery sector.

Mr Fahour was last year paid $4.8 million, which is believed to be a record for an Australia public servant. In comparison, the chief of the US Postal Service earned $384,229 in 2012.

Australia Post released its profit results for 2013-14 on Thursday and refused to disclose his salary until the annual report is tabled in Parliament in October.

An Australia Post spokeswoman said: “We are reporting our results today in line with other large GBEs [government business enterprises] and at the recommendation of our shareholder. The salary of the managing director and CEO will be made available in the annual report, yet to be tabled in Parliament.”

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The lack of transparency has angered Printing Industry Association of Australia, which represents big mail users from the print and packaging industries.

Read more: Australia Post won’t divulge boss’s salary as letters profit dives 35 per cent.

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Royal Mail profiteers quietly cashed in

Many of the “priority investors” in Royal Mail, brought in supposedly to remain long term, stable holders of the privatised service, quietly sold millions of their shares over the summer.

The 16 investors caused controversy for the Business Secretary Vince Cable earlier this year, as many of them were precisely the kind of short-termist hedge funds the minister had pledged would not make a fast profit from the sale of the public-owned postal system.

All priority shareholders were given big stakes in the company at the flotation price of 330p a share – a valuation that came under huge criticism as the share price rocketed from the first day they began trading. Since their peak at 618p, they have come down to about 440p amid concerns about competition eating away at its lucrative urban deliveries business and a regulatory inquiry in France.

Read more: Exclusive: ‘Priority investors’ sell Royal Mail shares – Business News – Business – The Independent.