We have identified six main risk events impacting PostNL in 2022.
The labour inspectorate in Belgium filed a case against PostNL Belgium regarding alleged breaches of applicable social laws and regulations. After several inspections in 2021, new inspections took place in 2022 and PostNL became subject to a criminal investigation by the Belgian investigative judge into alleged breaches of labour law in Belgium in respect to delivery partners of PostNL. More information regarding the Belgium labour inspectorate can be found in the ‘Regulatory Compliance Management’ chapter.
Following the previous ruling by the lower court in Rotterdam on the combination of the postal networks of PostNL and Sandd, the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal has upheld the ruling of the court of Rotterdam regarding the first decision and annulled the second decision of the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. Although the decision and corresponding conditions are no longer valid, PostNL will continue to adhere to the conditions imposed in relation to the acquisition. The legality of the transaction is not at stake. As we obtained control as of the acquisition date of 22 October 2019, we have fully consolidated Sandd in our financial statements from that date going forward. Further information regarding the ruling by the court on the combination of postal networks can be found in the ‘Regulatory Compliance Management’ chapter.
In 2022, the top-up payment obligation was terminated, combined with a reduction of the unconditional funding obligation amounting to €20 million. As of 31 December 2022, the pension expenses will equal the cash contributions. These combined effects will lead to a lower risk on pensions.
In 2022, the devastating war in Ukraine had major consequences globally, impacting agricultural production and energy prices, leading to severe macroeconomic repercussions. High inflation, rising interest rates, rapidly rising energy costs, and more costly goods affected consumer confidence, leading to consumers cutting back on their spending.
For PostNL, this negatively impacted parcel volumes for much of the year. Rising inflation led to increased costs, including salary expenses, which we were not fully able to absorb through regular price increases. These issues also affected our customers, partners and suppliers. Rising energy and other costs made the transportation of goods more expensive, while global supply chain issues led to delays in the availability of products. For example, we were unable to introduce as many e-vehicles as planned, impacting the progress we made towards our Zero 2030 programme goals.
Our quality levels were strongly affected by the tight labour market across the country in 2022. A shortage of labour impacted our operations, mostly within mail delivery. This added to the pressure on wages, which were also affected by rising inflation, and impacted delivery quality levels. There was also an impact from extreme weather conditions.
Despite the challenges, the 95% target for funeral announcements and medical mail was met. For more information please refer to the ‘Customer value’ chapter.
Large e-tailers have begun to spread their volumes through dual or multi-vendorship models. Going forward, we aim to maintain our market-leading position in the Netherlands in the B2C segment by enhancing the customer experience through digital innovations, our sustainability profile, competitive pricing, investing in and expanding our network, and focusing on further improving quality and customer satisfaction.
The international e-commerce arena is also becoming more competitive. Traditional players are seeking to strengthen their position, while different types of start-ups, for example those focusing on value-chain orchestration, end-to-end logistics or digital support, are entering the market. Large e-commerce and/or platform businesses are also expanding their geographical coverage and role in the logistics value chain, selecting the best logistic partnerships or, if needed, setting up their own logistics networks.