Royal Mail names former Ocado exec Thompson as CEO of UK business

© Reuters. The logo of Royal Mail is seen outside the Mount Pleasant Sorting Office as a delivery vehicle arrives, in London

(Reuters) – Britain’s Royal Mail (LON:) promoted former Ocado (LON:) and WM Morrison executive Simon Thompson to head its UK business, tapping a retail industry veteran to steer the former postal monopoly as it deals with a COVID-19-driven surge in online parcel deliveries.

Interim CEO Stuart Simpson, who had filled in for Rico Back, will leave Royal Mail by the end of this month. Back stepped down last May after two years during which the company faced issues with unions over a proposed 1.8 billion pound restructuring plan.

Thompson served as online grocer Ocado’s chief product officer until mid-2020 as per his LinkedIn (NYSE:) bio. He has headed digital commerce at HSBC, was in charge of Apple (NASDAQ:)’s online stores in EMEA and held senior executive positions at WM Morrison Supermarkets, Motorola and Honda Europe.

Royal Mail said Martin Seidenberg, chief executive of its international parcels business general logistics systems, will join the Board on April 1.

The formal appointments, which were reported by Sky News over the weekend, come just three weeks after Royal Mail reached a crucial deal with its largest union over pay and operational change.

Britain’s former postal monopoly had said then the agreement would help it focus more on its parcels segment, which has benefited as people resort to online shopping amid virus-led restrictions, offsetting a year-long decline in its legacy letter business.

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