UK regulator to probe Royal Mail's delivery targets miss

FILE PHOTO: A Royal Mail van drives near the home of Britain's former chief executive of the Post Office Paula Vennells, in Bedford

(Reuters) - Britain's communications regulator Ofcom is investigating International Distribution Services-owned Royal Mail over its failure to meet its delivery targets for the financial year 2023-24, the regulator said on Friday.

Under Ofcom's rules, Royal Mail is required to meet performance targets across the whole financial year, such as delivering 93% of first class mail within one working day of collection and 98.5% of second class mail within three working days of collection.

Royal Mail did not meet the regulator's targets, Ofcom said. The regulator added that it will consider if there were any exceptional events beyond the company's control that may explain why it failed to meet its targets and will consider a financial penalty if a satisfactory explanation is not given.

"We will engage with Ofcom throughout their investigation... and we are taking every action to improve First and Second Class deliveries," a Royal Mail spokesperson said.

The British post and parcel services firm was fined 5.4 million pounds ($6.88 million) last year for failing to meet its first and second class delivery targets in the 2022-23 financial year. The company had blamed union disputes that led to strikes for its failure to meet the goals.

The Ofcom investigation comes after Royal Mail's owner posted a narrower annual pre-tax loss earlier in the day and announced a special dividend to be paid out if it completes a $4.4 billion takeover bid by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky.

($1 = 0.7849 pounds)

(Reporting by Angela Christy; Additional reporting by Gursimran Kaur in Bengaluru; Editing by Josie Kao)