New Malden Post Office is facing a takeover by a retail firm, the Post Office has announced.

Making the announcement Tuesday (January 14) the Post Office said that the New Malden branch would be run by the company ZCO Ltd on a franchise basis from April 2020.

The Post Office said that a "wide range of Post Office products and services" would continue to feature under the new operator and that the site would remain at 150 High Street, New Malden.

Steve Blampied, Head of the Directly Managed Network, reiterated the continuity of the new plan for the site.

"We are making this change in order to maintain Post Office services in New Malden," Blampied said.

"There are unprecedented changes on our high streets and the needs of our customers are evolving too.

"Our priority is to provide secure and commercially sustainable services in New Malden, continuing to meet our customers’ needs now and into the future.

"The vast majority of our 11,500 Post Office Branches, large and small, are already successfully operated by independent franchisees," he added.

Community campaigners have roundly criticised the announcement.

Malden Independent Community Organisation (MICO) Leaders Yvonne Tracey and James Giles published an open letter to political parties in the borough urging them to oppose the move and slamming the plans as threatening workers' jobs.

"Staff are set to lose their jobs via redundancy, which does nothing to support the local economy and also makes clear that ZCO will endeavour to run any franchise on a shoestring," the letter read.

The assertion of seemingly inevitable redundancies was denied by the Post Office when contacted by the Comet about the situation.

"We are talking to the New Malden branch team about their potential options," a spokesperson said.

"Employees have the right to transfer their employment in line with TUPE legislation following the decision to franchise their branch, there might also be opportunities for redeployment or a voluntary settlement," they added.

Campaigners opposing the takeover pointed out that previous examples of a franchise taking over the operation of a Crown Post Office has led to redundancies and reduced services.

The CWU communication workers' trade union, who opposed the former Coalition government's privitization of the Post Office in 2011, have since slammed the franchising of many Crown Post Offices across the country.

The CWU said in 2018 that the increasing number of Post Offices being outsourced into retailers like WHSmith threatened the brand's "long-term viability".

Regarding the New Malden branch, a Post Office spokesperson said they welcomed feedback from residents and offered avenues for this coming weeks.

"Post Office welcomes comments until 12 February.

"Customers can share their views on the proposed change through online questionnaire at with the branch code 007023."