Royal Mail sales boosted by parcel demand

LONDON Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:22am EST

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LONDON Jan 24 (Reuters) - Royal Mail Group, sold off last October in Britain's biggest privatisation in decades, said underlying sales for the nine months to Dec. 29 rose 2 percent, helped by strong parcel demand over Christmas.

The postal firm, whose sale was fiercely opposed by unions and opposition lawmakers and has been criticised since for potentially short-changing the taxpayer, on Friday said strong Christmas demand and price changes had helped UK parcels revenue grow 8 percent in the period on flat volumes.

The performance in parcels, which make up half of group sales, helped offset a 3 percent like-for-like revenue decline in UK letters, as volumes slowly erode due to the rising use of email and social media.

Royal Mail said the trading performance had been in line with its expectations.

Shares in the firm closed at 588 pence on Thursday, up 78 percent from the 330p per share price Britain sold a 60 percent stake for, valuing the business at 5.9 billion pounds.

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