August 30, 2004
The South African Post Office (Sapo) is out of the red – for the first time in 200 years. It has reported a bumper R27-billion profit for the 2003/4 financial year, described by the parastatal as the most significant in history.
Sapo is one of the largest business concerns in the country, with more than 2 700 outlets and 5 500 service points. It delivers around eight million items to almost 6.5-million addresses daily – amounting to some 37 tons of mail.
Sapo chief executive Maanda Manyatshe said its achievement is all the more remarkable because postal services internationally are in decline, and the profit posted was an about-face from the losses of previous years amounting to hundreds of millions of rands.
Sapo says its motto: ‘We will deliver, whatever it takes’, has impacted considerably on its performance, and that its emphasis has been on meeting customer needs, providing excellent service and improving efficiencies.
At the same time, it focused on several turnaround projects aimed at improving profitability and long-term results within the framework of its universal service obligations. Since privatisation four years ago, the Post Office has also reduced its staff from 30 000 to 18 000.
Turnover reported for the year was up 9.4% to R4.020-billion, while cash generated from operations was up 86% to R283-million. Operating profit before post-retirement medical benefits was up a staggering 632% to R266-million.
Although trading operations turned a profit, overall the group incurred a net loss of R74.7-million, due to the cost of post-retirement medical benefits, Manyatshe said.
He said Sapo aimed to leverage its infrastructure to provide a range of services, including banking, career and Internet services. “We want to make more than R100-million profit next year,” he said.