Pictured: David McRedmond, CEO, An Post.
David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, is Business & Finance’s Business Person of the Month for July. While it may be a controversial choice, given the closures of ailing Post Offices in rural communities, the onus is on McRedmond to guarantee a profitable and relevant future for the organisation, and we at Business & Finance applaud business people who are not afraid to take on a challenging role.
Stepping up to the challenge
McRedmond was appointed to the position of CEO of An Post in October 2016, for a seven-year tenure. At the time Chairman Dermot Divilly noted that McRedmond had been recruited to “lead An Post through the challenging industry and technology environment in the years ahead”. Detailing why he believed McRedmond was the right person for the job, he revealed, “I have been impressed by his ability to lead transformational change in companies across several adjacent sectors such as retailing, telecoms and media.” (The Dubliner had headed up TV3 and transformed it into a major player in Irish broadcasting, prior to its sale to Liberty Global in 2015.)
McRedmond stepped up to the challenge with gusto, stating, “My job will be to ensure its future is as bright as its past, meeting the seismic market changes head-on with boldness and creativity. I have been convinced by the board’s dedication to the task of ensuring An Post is central to a dynamic, open Irish economy.”
Given a challenge like the An Post job, the first year was make or break, and McRedmond came out fighting. The 2017 annual report showed a jump from losses of €12.4m in 2016 to profits of €8.4m in 2017 (against forecast losses of €61m), and volumes in the relaunched parcel business up 30% on the prior year.
McRedmond noted a focus on ensuring “long-term viability” for the business and “restoring An Post’s centrality to Ireland’s social and economic life”, but didn’t shy away from admitting this would require “more big decisions in 2018”.
Committing to being a “force for good” he also pledged to strengthen their commitment to being a responsible employer and increasing diversity in the workforce at all levels in the organisation, and in developing ecologically sound practices as a major physical infrastructure across the State.
McRedmond joined An Post at a time of intense pressure as the company struggled to stay relevant and build its services offering as letter-writing became a thing of the past. Economically unviable rural post offices were designated for closure—a source of great displeasure for rural communities, particularly the elderly who saw them as a lifeline.
This week, closures were announced, with the news that 161 postmasters had applied for voluntary redundancy. Speaking on RTE’s Today with Miriam radio show, McRedmond explained they need to make sure the network is viable and where there are two post offices within 1-2km of each other, closing one allows for the other to have enough business. A network of 950 post offices, including all island-based post offices, will remain open.
“We are in many cases the last shop standing and it is very important we have a strong post office network,” he said.
He also revealed that over €40 million will be invested in the network over the next couple of years and that they are launching a new range of financial services.
Another potential challenge for the company coming down the line would be loss of the social welfare payments contract. Were the Department of Social Welfare to move to an online payment system, the lucrative contract would be a big loss to An Post’s balance sheets.
However, it looks like McRedmond has his eyes on the prize and is honing the business into a sleeker, more agile beast. Watch this space.
David McRedmond CV
CEO, An Post, one of Ireland’s largest businesses employing over 10,000 people. It is a leader in parcel delivery, financial services, insurance and retailing. The business has several subsidiaries in Ireland and the UK.
Non-executive Chairperson at eir
Non-executive Director at Premier Lotteries Ireland
Chairman, Powerscourt Group
2006-2016: CEO at TV3, Ireland’s leading commercial broadcaster, successfully sold to Liberty Global from PE ownership.
2002-2006: Group Commercial Director at Eircom (now eir)
1999-2002: Managing Director Enterprises, Eircom (now eir)
1997-1999: CEO, WH Smith USA
1996-1997: Managing Director of WH Smith Travel Retail.
1993-1996: Operations Director, Waterstones
1990-1993: USA Project Director, Waterstones
Business & Finance, Business Person of the Month
Business & Finance, in association with KPMG, rewards excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award. This award seeks to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and, particularly, those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.