The Post Office is pressing ahead with its plans to relocate and franchise its Luton Mall branch into the shopping centre’s WHSmith.
Following a six week public consultation and review, the current branch will close at 5.30pm on Wednesday, March 20, with the new branch, Luton Post Office, opening in The Mall’s WHSmith at 9am on March 21.
The same range of products and services will still be available at the branch, including travel money, DVLA Photocard renewal, and Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence application services, while the branch will be operated by WHSmith HighStreet Ltd.
Roger Gale, Network and Sales director, stated that the change would help to ensure the branch is commercially viable into the future.
He said: “The Post Office is committed to keeping our services at the heart of communities, which we know is hugely important. We are making sure we take the right action to sustain services for years to come.”
The new Luton Post Office will operate from a modern open-plan area located towards the rear of WHSmith.
The change is part of a wider movement, as the number of Post Office branches within WHSmith stores will be extended under a new agreement, with up to 40 planned to be relocated into stores in 2019.
However, it has been confirmed that the 20 staff affected at the current Post Office site will not be transferring to the new branch.
A Post Office spokeswomen added: “The staff have different options – transferring is one of them, redeployment or voluntary settlement are some others. We obviously do all we can to find a solution that works for each individual within the options available, and have a strong track record of supporting our people through change.
“Any person employed to work in Luton Post Office will be trained to the highest Post Office standards and, just as with branches we run ourselves, the branch staff will receive on-going training on products and services, as well as general operational and service related matters. Post Office Area Managers will work with WHSmith and the branch team to provide support, in the same way they already do in existing Post Office branches operated by us or other retail partners.”
A Post Office cash machine will not be available but all branches now offer customers access to their usual high street bank account, so they can use their debit card to withdraw cash at the new branch.
Meanwhile, to make sure there is sufficient space for Post Office customers, including wheelchair users, to move around the store and reach the Post Office area without hindrance, the entrance area and shopping aisles will be kept free of obstructions.
There will also be low level counters, PIN pads and hearing loops, as well as space for people to wait for service and customer seating.
There will be six serving positions, and five self-service machines.
Opening times: Mondays to Saturday, 9am - 5.30pm. Sunday: 11am - 3pm.