It is a time of great change for the Post Office, with new services, longer opening hours and a fresh look across thousands of our branches in communities across the UK. Only last week we announced the extension of Post Office current accounts to more areas, for instance.
We are determined to secure the future of the Post Office, so as part of our new approach we are modernising our retail offer. We are rapidly adapting to the challenges of the digital age and offer more services on-line and via apps, while at the same time focusing even more acutely on the needs of our customers.
A core aim is to become a business which is far less reliant on taxpayer subsidy, and much more in tune with changing lifestyles.
We also recognise the crucial importance of the Post Office to millions of people, and that our customers, staff and subpostmasters care deeply about how the business develops.
At the same time we don't pretend to have all the answers to the challenges we face: we can learn so much by listening more.
That's why we are making some important changes in the way we work. We want to give our staff and subpostmasters more opportunities to feedback their views on how to build the business. I recently attended a frontline forum event with colleagues in London - there were no frills, just a really honest, frank and constructive discussion about improving the way we work.
It was also focused on taking action, not just talking about it. It's this kind of approach we are planning across the board.
We also want to hear more from customers, past, present and future - the reason we are changing the way we work has our customers at its heart - more convenience, better service, more products.
This increased engagement is taking many forms and one important step is a new Post Office Advisory Council. This new body will bring together around 20 people from across the UK to offer views and expertise on how we should develop our business. We are seeking members from a range of diverse backgrounds and with a mix of skills and experience - you can find out more at www.corporate.postoffice.co.uk/advisory . The closing date for applications is 31st January 2014.
The new council will meet for the first time in March, and then three times each year. It's an important step as we build the next chapter in the history of one of the most treasured retailers in the UK.