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2002

Business year 2001: Distinctly improved performance of Austrian Postal Service

Pressemeldung from 07.05.2002

EBIT increased by 35% – EGT by 17%
Decline in sales and forthcoming liberalisation measures require consistent continuation of current cost cutting programme

The Austrian Postal Service (Österreichische Post AG) closed the business year 2001 with a distinct improvement in performance.
Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) amounted to EUR 24m (ATS 324m) against EUR 17m
(ATS 239m) in 2000. The results from ordinary activities (EGT) were EUR 45m (ATS 623m) against EUR 39m (ATS 532m) in the previous year.
The turnover of Österreichische Post AG in 2001 was EUR 1,518m (ATS 20,884m) against EUR 1,542m (ATS 21,222m) in the business year 2000.
All financial data relate to the combined group.
The year-end results were presented at the Vienna Hofburg by the management board of Österreichische Post AG on Tuesday, 7 May 2002.

Commenting on the positive performance, Rudolf Jettmar, Executive Director of Finances, said:
"The operative efficiency of the company is underscored by the fact that EBIT and EGT were distinctly improved, despite the decline in sales."
The decline in turnover results primarily from the fact that public benefit services ceased to be compensated, and from a decrease in selling commissions. However, sales increases were achieved in the core business of the Austrian Postal Service, ie, addressed deliveries.  

Further enhancement of cost orientation, process optimisation and quality improvement
Chief Executive Anton Wais said: "The results are encouraging, but we must not forget that the further liberalisation of the market means that cost orientation, process optimisation and quality improvement need to be continued as a consistent strategy."
In this connection, Wais again pointed out the importance of the company's reorganisation in business areas that was decided in 2001: "With an organisational structure that permits a targeted and market-specific management, the Austrian Postal Service will successfully cope with the big challenges of the future."

Employees
Personnel costs were again reduced as against the previous year. On an annual average, the Österreichische Post AG Group employed 30,357 full-time employees, a reduction by 1,418 as against 2000. The year under review saw the first implementation of the restyled basic postal qualification – a service exam that is compulsory for officials – in accordance with new criteria. This training focuses on customers and service.

Growth option: South-Eastern Europe
The South-East European markets offer growth options for Österreichische Post AG. The year under review saw the foundation of a subsidiary in Slovenia, while at the beginning of the business year 2002, an agreement on the transfer of shares was reached in Bratislava with the shareholders of Slovak parcel Service s.r.o. and In Time s.r.o. Approval under cartel law is still pending.

Logistics and distribution
Implementation of the overall logistics plan of the Postal Service was continued in 2001; it envisages a total of six logistics centers with state-of-the-art technological equipment. The logistics centers in Salzburg, Styria and Upper Austria started operation in 2001.

Distribution focussed on the preparations for a reorganisation of delivery, with plans for the restructuring of the mailing post offices and the reduction to some 600 delivery bases or delivery post offices.
Thanks to mostly automatic sorting operations and optimised transportation routes between the logistics centers and delivery bases or delivery post offices, it is possible to achieve a significant improvement of operating times and optimum operational efficiency. "New Distribution" is characterised by a lean and direct management structure, independent groups and teams, as well as uniform standards for processes.

Job profiles for employees in Logistics and Distribution were redefined. Recruiting tests help to prepare the basis for a transparent and uniform staffing procedure. This procedure has been completed with some 500 employees for the Styria logistics center, while the recruiting process for the Vienna logistics center was started in 2001 and will be completed in 2002. Apart from the introduction of flextime models, socially compatible conditions for the changed personnel requirements were ensured by means of an internal agreement.

In 2001, Österreichische Post AG took into operation the first "in-house post office" at the Otto Versand mail order company.  From there, parcels are now dispatched not to the nearest logistics center, but directly to the logistics centers of the respective federal provinces. For customers with an appropriately high parcel volume, this is a completely new option for cooperating with the postal service, improving operating times while at the same time cutting costs.  

The smooth handling of the advance distribution of Euro coins to all Austrian post offices and banks was an excellent opportunity for the Austrian Postal Service to demonstrate its logistics competence. 1.1 billion Euro coins weighing a total of 8,000 tons were delivered safely and reliably within the shortest possible time. 

Branch network, marketing and distribution
The implementation of the "branch office plan" was begun in the business year 2001. To achieve a sustainable profitability of the branch network, 648 unprofitable locations are merged, while new types of branch offices are being created to meet customer requirements. The emphasis of the "branch office plan" is on the enlargement of the product and service range.

The branch office types "Post-Box", "Post.at" and "Post-Partner" that were piloted in 2001 met with positive response from customers.
At the "Post-Box", postal matters can be handled practically "in passing". It is located exclusively in places with a high customer frequency. Apart from conventional postal services, the Post-Box offers interesting additional products ranging from gift articles to mobile phones.
Post.at is the contemporary development of the postal office. Post.at branch offices offer a large additional range of CDs, books, stationery and gift articles. "surf-points" and "e-points" complete the new range by offering a modern communication platform.
"Post-Partner" is an excellent alternative for postal offices that cannot continue operation because of economic considerations. As a rule, Post Partners are local grocery shops that offer postal services in addition to their primary business. Customers benefit from normally longer opening hours, Post Partners from an increase of customer frequency. 
In the year under review, seven Post.at locations, four Post Box locations and eight Post Partners were piloted.
In 2002, further locations will be established of all types of branch offices mentioned above.

Further extension of direct marketing competence
In 2001, Österreichische Post AG opened the Vienna Direct Marketing Center, the sixth competence center for business customers.
The Postal Service has set itself the goal of providing its customers with the experience of many years as well as with professional know-how in direct marketing for small and medium enterprises. The professional advice supplied by Direct Marketing Center employees is complemented by a varied seminar programme designed to enable customers to learn from professionals how to optimise their advertising effectiveness.  Seminars include both beginners' courses and offers for businesspeople with experience in marketing issues. 
Besides, Österreichische Post AG is the main sponsor of the DAA Direct Marketing Akademie, founded in Vienna in November 2001.
 
Apart from new products, such as the bonus letter (Bonus-Brief), stamp set (Marken-Set), premium letter (Premium-Brief) and the distribution of the digital signature "a-sign" via the branch network, the address management laid the foundation for future services. In 2001, a full-coverage basic address database was prepared for real operation.

Preview
The 2002 agenda features the following key issues:

  • Intensification of cost cutting programme
  • Prudent investment policy
  • Implementation of business area organisation
  • Quality offensive in Logistics and Distribution
  • Completion of structural adaptation of branch network

An EU draft redefines the framework conditions for further liberalisation from 2003: First, addressed postal consignments weighing over 100 grams should be open to free competition (from 2003). From 2006, monopolies on consignments over 50 grams should be abolished. 2009 is currently being discussed as milestone for a complete liberalisation. 

2002: First quarter
In the first quarter of the current business year, Österreichische Post AG attained a turnover of EUR 381m (as against EUR 388m in the first quarter of 2001).
The EBIT of the first quarter of 2002 amounts to EUR 14.5m (2001: EUR 9.1m), the EGT amounts to EUR 15.4m (2001: EUR 14.8m).


For further information please contact:

Österreichische Post AG
Company communication
Press section / PR
Michael Homola
Tel.: +43 (1) 515 51 - 32010
E-Mail: michael.homola@post.at