Royal Mail appoints Simon Thompson as chief executive | Business

Royal Mail has appointed a former Ocado executive as its new boss, putting him in charge of a sweeping overhaul of the postal business.

Simon Thompson, who was already a non-executive on the Royal Mail board and worked on the NHS test and trace programme, is stepping into the role immediately.

The 54-year-old previously served as chief product officer at Ocado. He also held senior roles at Apple, HSBC,, Morrisons and Honda Europe.

Royal Mail has been without a permanent chief executive since May 2020, when Rico Back unexpectedly resigned less than two years into the role. Back had been locked in a battle with unions over the company’s restructuring plan, and faced criticism for living in Switzerland during the Covid pandemic. He was replaced as an interim measure by the company’s chairman, Keith Williams.

Thompson will be tasked with implementing a five-year turnaround plan launched by Back in 2019. The £1.8bn overhaul is intended to to revamp Royal Mail by shifting its focus from letters to parcels, amid a boom in online shopping, and follows years of declining profits.

In June, the company unveiled a cost-cutting plan, which included the loss of 2,000 management jobs in areas including IT, finance, marketing and sales by March 2021. The company’s 90,000 postal workers would not be affected by the cuts, Royal Mail said at the time.

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Thompson will receive a salary of £525,000, as well as a pension worth 13.6% of his base pay – about £71,400 a year. Further details about his pay package, including bonuses, will be disclosed in the firm’s annual report.

Commenting on Thompson’s appointment, Williams said: “Royal Mail in the UK is in a period of significant transition and needs to move quickly, put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and adapt our business to better serve changing customer needs.”

He added that Thompson “has a wealth of experience both in digital transformation and customer experience, and is ideally placed to lead the opportunity to grow and expand our UK parcels business and to meet our customers’ needs across both letters and parcels”.

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