Royal Mail reported a huge increase in half-yearly profits today as growth in parcel deliveries made up for a continued fall in the number of letters being sent.

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Group operating profits in the six months to September were £144 million, compared with £12 million in the same period last year.

UK parcel revenue was up by 13%, with parcels representing 47% of total group revenue.

Revenue from letters was 2% higher following the increase in stamp prices earlier this year, although letter volumes fell by 9%.

The group said in its interim report today that preparations are now under way for the sale of Royal Mail.

“Obtaining external capital is a key part of the transformation process as we become a more parcels-focused business and make the investment in technology to do so,” said the report.

Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene said all of the group’s main businesses were profitable.

She highlighted the turnaround in the UK parcels, international and letters business (UKPIL), where a loss of £41 million in the half year to last September has been converted into a profit of £99 million.

“Royal Mail has experienced the negative impact of e-substitution, which is driving the structural decline in the traditional letters market.

“Conversely, we are seeing the positive impact that online retailing is having on our parcel volumes,” she said.

Ms Greene said Royal Mail’s modernisation programme involved “painful, difficult change”, with almost every aspect of work being transformed.

“I believe our people generally understand the need for the company to continue to adapt to a rapidly changing postal market and that the company and the unions need to work together for the benefit of both our customers and our colleagues.

“We have made significant progress across all fronts, but more remains to be done. We are focused on continuing the turnaround of our business and securing the external capital we need to complete the transformation of Royal Mail.”

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