An Post taps €2.6m GDPR boost as Royal Mail hit

Pádraig Hoare

An Post saw a windfall of €2.6m in the run-up to the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — in sharp contrast to the UK’s Royal Mail, which saw mail volumes drop sharply.

The Irish postal service said it was confident GDPR had opened up “potential for further growth in direct mail” in the Republic, while Royal Mail said some customers remained uncertain about the new European data privacy law as it reported a 6% decline in the number of letters it delivered in its first quarter.

A spokesman for An Post said: “At the outset, we enjoyed a boost in business and going forward look likely to be well placed to benefit from the difference in how direct mail is used here.”

In the four weeks before the introduction of GDPR, firms sent around 4 million mail items connected to the law’s introduction, which was worth around €2.6m to An Post.

The contrast between the Republic and Britain is believed to be attributed to a significant difference in how direct mail is delivered.

So-called “cold mailing”, where businesses send mail to people they have not previously dealt with in order to attract new customers, is less common in the Republic, and is likely to cause potential legal obstacles because of GDPR.

However, firms in the Republic use direct mail mainly with existing customers to cross or up-sell.

An Post said GDPR regulations allow a business with a “legitimate interest” to continue to contact existing customers through direct mail, as long as it provides the option to opt out each time.

Royal Mail had already warned in May that GDPR may reduce marketing mails. It said it was working with customers to find solutions for their marketing mail needs. Letter volumes fell 6% in the quarter ended in June. The decline in letter volumes was just about offset by a 7% increase in parcel volumes that helped lift total revenue by 2%.

GDPR is designed to harmonise data privacy laws across Europe and to protect citizens’ data privacy.

If companies fail to comply with the regulation, they can be fined up to 4% of annual global turnover, or €20m.

Additional reporting Reuters

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