The Post Office is changing. As a commercial business with a public purpose, you will still find us within three miles of 99.7% of the population, providing key services at the heart of communities and providing social value estimated at £2.3 billion. We are still the leading mails retailer and building that key part of our business is a priority in a competitive market.
We have connected communities and customers with the products and services they need for centuries - and that isn't going to change.
But the Post Office is now more than it ever was - an independent multi-channel business, with a vibrant, fast-growing financial services business, separated from Royal Mail and embarking on a new era of growth, modernisation and customer excellence in serving the UK population.
Our business turnaround centres on the largest investment programme in our history to provide a better service for customers: new ways of working, longer opening hours in branches and more convenient and accessible modern outlets. It is a plan focused on a post office of the future which is more financially sustainable in its own right.
There is no longer a closure programme in Post Office branches - in fact, we have the largest retail network in the UK, at its most stable for decades with over 11,500 branches. Around 17 million customers, including a third of all small businesses, visit us every week. More than 7,500 of our branches have been transformed since our modernisation programme began. Thousands of branches are now open from early in the morning until later in the evening, with around 4000 open seven days a week. And we want to grow further: we are a multi-channel business providing more than 170 products and services to our customers but our vision is to deliver more. The Post Office, trusted and part of the fabric of our society, is an increasingly credible alternative to the high street banks.
We are also a key touch-point between the public and government and have a long history of successfully providing essential government services. Our reach into communities combined with our desire to innovate to improve customer service is making life easier for millions of people through the provision of services as diverse and important as accessing cash and collecting pensions to renewing licences and passports. We are supporting the growth of the economy by supporting small businesses, a third of which visit the post office every week.
We are increasing our digital capability, ensuring our customers can access our products and services online, while also introducing world-leading technology to support customer journeys in branch. The Post Office is a key player in the drive to digital, providing physical check steps such as identity verification which are so crucial to ensuring the UK seizes the opportunities of the digital revolution.
As a business we recognise the challenges we face and we know that the path ahead will not always be smooth. We are operating in a tough financial climate and with challenges on the high street. But we have the confidence in our business and its unique role and strengths to know that we can deliver the business transformation of the decade.