12 October 2009 | Allie Anderson
Three-quarters of UK firms are considering dropping Royal Mail as their postal services supplier amid the threat of a national strike, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
A study of 250 companies, carried out in conjunction with Sky News, found almost 90 per cent were concerned about the planned postal strike and 75 per cent were looking elsewhere for a more reliable service.
Last week the Communication Workers Union announced that postal workers voted 76 per cent in favour of a national strike. No date has yet been set for the action.
Steve Hughes, BCC's economic policy adviser, told Sky News: "The results of this survey are quite explicit. Businesses are very upset by what's happening and they're worried about how it will affect their services. All they want is consistency. That means the Royal Mail providing a service they can rely on and at the moment they can't do that."
Phil McCabe, spokesman for the Forum of Private Business, added that small suppliers were concerned postal strikes would mean further delays to payment.
Retailers Argos and Amazon are among Royal Mail customers considering other providers. An Argos spokesperson said it was ready to call on "contingency measures" if planned strikes go ahead, while Amazon said it was also working on back-up plans.
Independent delivery service provider Post-Switch has experienced an increase in business as firms look to ditch Royal Mail. Jonathan DeCarteret, founder of Post-Switch, told SM
: "Over the past three months, a number of large users of mail have all put into place contingency measures so if they did switch from Royal Mail, they had a back-up plan.
"What we have noticed is people actioning those plans, so contracts lying in wait have been signed and people have switched companies."
Competitor DHL was more cautious about any potential rise in business resulting from industrial action at Royal Mail. A spokesperson said: "We always see a surge in volumes at this time of year, so it's hard to say at the moment whether there's been an uplift as a result of the localised postal strikes."