The Postnet challenge to the Post Office


By Ujuh Reporter

A Postnet store has popped up next to a Post Office in the Blu Valley Mall in Centurion, Pretoria, in what makes for a perfect symbol of the tragedy engulfing the South African Post Office (SAPO).

Postnet is emboldened in the face of a SAPO that is slipping towards extinction. That captures the challenge faced by the new SAPO board announced last week.

In a perfect world, the Post Office and Postnet are supposed to be positioned like Tom and Jerry, the arch enemies in the classic cartoon series. The Post Office is supposed to be Tom the aggressive cat and Postnet, Jerry, the fearful but agile mouse. Generally, Jerry stays away from Tom’s territory. Jerry does sneak into Tom’s territory from time to time and runs for dear life when he is discovered.

The happening at Blue Valley Mall where Postnet opens an outlet next to a Post Office in a small convenience shopping centre may be redefining the game.

Granted, Postnet is much more than a post outlet but a significant portion of its business is post type business. PostNet is characterised as providing a one-stop service center for businesses, households and consumers. Services include courier, copy, digital print, stationery, mailboxes etc.

The South African Post Office has bled to near death and screamed for a bailout last year alongside other State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Eskom and South African Airways (SAA). The SAPO was one of the SOE’s placed under Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SOE’s war room.

The rot has been eating the SAPO for a while which opened a gap for the entry of alternatives like Postnet.

Postnet has been highly successful in stealing SAPO’s market share to an extent that it attracted an international buyer, Aramex, who paid top dollar for the operation.

The positioning of the Postnet next to a Post Office suggests that Postnet has won the battle.

The operation launched in 1994 is reported to have about 300 stores spread across the country and serves about 55 000 customers daily. It was bought for R190m by the Dubai headquartered company, Aramex, from the JSE lisyted company Onelogix.

The SAPO remains a much bigger operation with 2486 access points. A new board was recently appointed to save the SAPO. The new SAPO board features Dr Simosezwe Dugmore Lushaba as Chairperson and Bulelwa Patricia Soci as Deputy Chairperson.  They will have to move very fast to stem a slide into extinction.


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