Royal Mail names senior Heathrow executive as next boss | Royal Mail

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Royal Mail has appointed a senior executive from Heathrow to become its next boss, charged with delivering a turnaround to the ailing postal company.

Emma Gilthorpe, who has been chief operating officer at the airport since 2020, will join Royal Mail in May.

Gilthorpe’s role is newly created under Martin Seidenberg, who is chief executive of Royal Mail parent company International Distributions Services (IDS). The group’s parcels business, GLS, has a separate CEO, Karl Pfaff.

Seidenberg has run Royal Mail on an interim basis since his appointment to the group role last July. He replaced Simon Thompson, who left after a bruising two-year battle with the postal workers’ union.

Gilthorpe has held a number of roles at Heathrow since joining in 2009, including in roles in strategy, regulation and sustainability. Royal Mail said she had led Heathrow’s expansion programme as well as overseeing the airport’s response to the pandemic.

Gilthorpe has also held positions in the telecoms industry, with BT and Cable and Wireless.

Royal Mail lauded her experience in handling “large, complex and high-profile regulated infrastructure businesses”.

She takes over at Royal Mail at a crucial juncture. The communications industry regulator, Ofcom, is studying a series of potential reforms to the postal service, including cutting the number of delivery days from six to five or even three. A more expensive next-day service would be retained. An industry consultation over the proposals will close tomorrow.

Seidenberg said: “Emma has an impressive track record of delivering major strategic change programmes while driving up performance. She will bring a customer- and employee-centric approach to delivering Royal Mail’s transformation for the benefit of all our stakeholders, and I look forward to working closely with her to ensure Royal Mail reaches its true potential.”

Gilthorpe said: “Royal Mail is a great British brand with a long and proud history. Now is the time to ensure it has a successful future too, working in partnership with our employees, customers and all our stakeholders to continue to modernise Royal Mail and deliver the high standards of service our customers rightly expect.”

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Details of Gilthorpe’s pay will not be released as she will not sit on the IDS board.

Gilthorpe is also a member of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between industry, academia and government designed to ensure at least 10% sustainable aviation fuel in the UK fuel mix by 2030 and zero emission transatlantic flights “within a generation”.

Separately on Tuesday, Royal Mail implemented its latest increase in stamp prices. The fourth increase in two years will take the price of a first-class stamp to £1.35 and the cost of the second-class service to 85p.