Apprentice star Kathryn Burn: Royal Mail strikes ‘complete nightmare’ for small businesses
The Apprentice star and small business owner Kathryn Burn has said the Royal Mail strikes are a “complete nightmare” for retailers and accused posties of being “almost greedy.”
Burn, who owns the My Christmas Pyjamas and Pyjamily brands, told CityA.M. that protracted industrial action over retail’s ‘golden quarter’ had “made my job very, very hard.”
The matching pyjamas businesses have had to switch delivery providers to DHL and Yodel due to posties’ walking out this month, as well as experiencing disruption to customers’ orders.
Staff at the postal service have gone on strike a number of times this month, most recently Wednesday 14 December and Thursday 15 December.
Members of the Communication Workers Union will also walk out on Friday 23 December and Saturday 24 December.
While Burn said she had “no problem with people striking,” she said the amount of strike dates “hasn’t been necessary” and was “almost greedy.”
Small retailers, who are reliant on the Royal Mail unlike bigger retailers who use courier services, have faced missing parcels and delayed deliveries, in the critical run up to Christmas, Burn said.
The e-commerce firm has been forced to refund customers hundreds of pounds in the last week alone due to delayed or missing parcels.
“I have seen footage of what the Royal Mail looks like at the moment and it looks like absolute carnage,” Burn said.
Even despite the delivery chaos, Burn was optimistic for the growth of her brand, which has recently launched a collaboration with the Hilton hotel chain.
It comes as the hotel chain is hoping to entice more leisure customers back into its doors, with Burns’ pyjama business part of a Christmas campaign to provide “special little touches” for family trips.
Union boss Dave Ward said this week that he was “sympathetic” to small businesses being hit hard by the strikes, but would engage with them more closely in the coming year.
Independent firms were being caught in the “crosshairs of the postal strikes at the very time they most need support,” e-commerce titan Ebay’s UK head told CityA.M. this month.
The impact of the walk-outs was “likely to be far further reaching than some delayed Christmas cards,” Murray Lambell wrote for this newspaper.
High street electronics retailer Currys has also temporarily ditched the postal service in order to dodge disruption to customers’ deliveries.
Currys chief executive Alex Baldock told reporters that it was a situation “where we benefit from being big,” as the firm’s partners “make sure we get preferential treatment.”
High street staples including Waterstones and The Entertainer have urged customers to make a trip to stores in order to ensure they get Christmas presents in time due to the walk-outs.