Simon Thompson, a former Ocado executive who also ran the NHS Test and Trace app, has been named as Royal Mail’s new UK boss.
He replaces Rico Back who quit the postal service unexpectedly in May.
Royal Mail has struggled to cope with a surge in parcel deliveries during the pandemic that caused delays over Christmas.
The volume of letters it delivers has also continued to fall as people rely more on email and text.
Interim chairman Keith Williams said Royal Mail was in a period of “significant transition” and needed to move quickly to “better serve changing customer needs”.
“Simon… has a wealth of experience both in digital transformation and customer experience and is ideally placed to lead the opportunity to grow and expand our UK parcels business and to meet our customers’ needs across both letters and parcels,” he added.
Mr Thompson’s appointment comes after a tumultuous year for Royal Mail, which last month agreed a pay deal with the Communication Workers Union (CWU), ending a two-year dispute.
For the past eight months the company has been run by interim chief executive Stuart Simpson, who took over when Mr Back stepped down after less than two years in the job.
Mr Back had faced criticism over his pay and was reportedly running the business from his home in Switzerland at the time of his departure.
Since then Royal Mail has blamed delays to its deliveries on “exceptionally high volumes” of post and anti-Covid measures.
In a trading update in September, it admitted it was “failing to adapt” to lower letter volumes and “holding on to outdated working practices and a delivery structure that no longer meets customer needs”.
Mr Thompson – who begins his role immediately – was chief product officer at the online grocer Ocado until May.
The former Apple and Lastminute.com executive then became managing director at NHS Test and Trace, where he ran the Covid-tracking service’s app.
‘Focus on the customer’
He has also been a non-executive director at Royal Mail since 2017 and, according to Mr Williams, already has “significant knowledge” of the group and its operations.
Mr Thompson said it had been a “challenging year” and the business needed to “explore new opportunities for growth”.
“Looking ahead, we need to build on the great trust we have on the doorstep. We need to develop a razor-sharp focus on the customer, making sure our services are delivering exactly what our customers need and want.”
Mr Thompson will be paid less than Mr Back, with a base salary of £525,000 and a pension allowance of 13.6%.
He will also be eligible to participate in the firm’s short-term and long-term incentive plans, which each have a maximum award value of 150% of salary.
Despite shareholder objections, Mr Back received a £5.8m payout on joining the firm as well as a base salary of £640,000, pension allowance of 17.5% and a potential annual bonus of 200% of salary.