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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 07:02 GMT
Consignia rejects name change call
Consignia brand name criticised
Consignia has quashed speculation that it is to change its name after company chairman Allan Leighton said it should go back to calling itself the Post Office.

"There is no intention to scrap the Consignia name, which was introduced by the Board when the company became a Government owned plc last year," the company said in a statement.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Leighton said in an interview with the Times newspaper that the new name had become tainted by bad publicity surrounding Consignia's recent poor performance.

"Would I like to change the name? Yes I would," he said.

However, he added that the cost of reversing the name change cannot be justified at a time when the loss-making company is planning to lay off thousands of workers as part of a massive restructuring exercise.

Any move to revert to the Post Office name would also be likely to run into opposition from Consignia chief executive John Roberts.

Brand building

The Post Office changed its name to Consignia last year in a 1m rebranding exercise designed to mark the organisation's transformation from a public service provider to a state-owned limited company.

The new name was intended to reflect the organisation's more commercial approach.

At the time, Mr Roberts said the new name would be seen "principally by our corporate customers in the financial services, telecommunications, home shopping, utilities and advertising and marketing sectors".

Bad to worse

However, Consignia has performed poorly since adopting its new name.

Dogged by industrial disputes and increasing competition in its key markets, the company reported a record 281m loss for the six months to November 2001.

Consignia is facing the threat of strike action in a dispute with the Communication Workers' Union over pay.

Mr Leighton on Friday agreed that Consignia is in trouble.

"This business is in freefall. Our profitability is heading south and our cash is heading south at a faster rate. It is bad and it is getting worse," he told the Times.

Government plans for a three-stage liberalisation of the UK postal services market, due to begin in April, have put Consignia under further pressure to restructure.

The BBC's Rory Cellan Jones
"Consignia insists its name is here to stay"
The BBC's Rebecca Marston
"It does have a meaning for the staff... albeit a negative one"
See also:

31 Jan 02 | Business
Q&A: The Post Office crisis
31 Jan 02 | Scotland
Rural fears over post plans
21 Jan 02 | Business
Consignia names new chairman
12 Dec 01 | Business
Consignia backpedals on job cuts
12 Dec 01 | Business
Consignia clashes with the unions
14 Dec 01 | Business
Post strike threat withdrawn
26 Nov 01 | Business
UK post operator loses 1.5m a day
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