Royal Mail CEO quits

Thompson: new CEO needed for next stage
Thompson: new CEO needed for next stage

Speculation has proved correct – embattled Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson is to leave the business.

Earlier this week Sky News reported that Thompson was in advanced talks about his departure, following a torrid period that included being recalled by MPs on the business select committee after an unconvincing first appearance and his involvement in the long-running and bitter industrial dispute that resulted in a ‘no confidence’ action by CWU postal workers.

This morning (12 May) Royal Mail parent International Distributions Services (IDS) announced that Thompson had informed the board of his intention to step down. Thompson has been in the post since January 2021 and was previously a non-exec at the group.

The IDS board said it was in “advanced stages” of appointing a new CEO. 

Chairman Keith Williams said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Simon for his significant contribution over more than five years at Royal Mail, both as CEO and previously as a Non-Executive Director of the Board. 

“As CEO, his leadership, resilience and unwavering drive to ensure that Royal Mail transforms for the benefit of our customers means we have set a clear path to turn the business around. We are grateful for his dedication and what he has achieved at the company, and wish him well for the future.”

Thompson’s salary was £525k in FY2022, rising to £611k including pension and benefits, and to a total of £753k including a £142k payment under the short-term incentive plan. 

He will stay on until the end of October to help with the transition, while Williams will provide “additional oversight and support” until a successor is in place. 

Thompson said he had been “incredibly proud to lead Royal Mail during this crucial period in its 507 year history”. 

“The changes we have made, the infrastructure we have put in place, and the agreements negotiated with our trade unions mean that Royal Mail now has a chance to compete and grow. 

“That is what I have always wanted, and it is now the right time to hand over to a new CEO to deliver the next stage of the company's reinvention. I would like to thank my team for their support during a difficult and important time of change.”

Reacting to the news with a Twitter livestream, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “It’s something we sensed was going to happen for some time. From the moment we entered the new talks process with Brendan Barber at ACAS Simon Thompson wasn’t involved with those negotiations. Effectively he was sidelined.

We welcome the news [of Thompson’s departure]. He is one of the key people that’s responsible for the financial backdrop to the agreement that we’ve just reached.”

Royal Mail will announce its year-end results next week, which also marks the start of  the CWU ballot of members on the Business Recovery, Transformation and Growth Agreement.

IDS shares have slipped by nearly 5% this week, and were down 1.9% today at 226.90p (52-week high: 352.10p, low: 173.65p). 

When a new CEO is announced, they will become Royal Mail's third CEO within the space of five years. Thompson's predecessor Rico Back left the firm after just two years.