The Post Office was separated out in 2012 as a standalone business in anticipation of the IPO the following year of former parent Royal Mail Group. Still state-controlled, it is Britain's biggest retailer, operating a national chain of around 11,500 post offices, more than all the country's high street banks combined. However that figure has shrunk dramatically in recent years, down from over 18,000 branches a decade earlier. Only around 262 so-called "Crown offices" remain as directly controlled standalone outlets owned and run by Post Office Ltd; all the others are run on an agency basis by licensed subpostmasters as part of an independent retail outlet, often a convenience store or corner shop, sometimes within other retail chains. The biggest licensees are the convenience store chain McColls (which operates 591 Post Office counters in its stores), grocery retailer The Co-op and general retailer WH Smith. The Post Office has been redefining itself in the wake of massive reductions in revenues following the loss of a succession of government contracts from social security payments to vehicle tax discs. That business had accounted for more than half of all store traffic up until the 1990s. The business now offers more than 170 products, including banking, insurance and travel services under the Post Office Money banner and low-cost phone and broadband connections. However, its biggest revenue stream remains postal services in a continuing partnership with Royal Mail. These contributed around a third of total revenues for the year to Mar 2018, which were £961m. Financial services and telecoms services contributed another third of revenues. Paul Vennells stepped down as CEO in 2019, and was replaced by Nick Read. All shares in Post Office Ltd are owned by the government's Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
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Capsule checked 24th June 2019
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