Royal Mail – founded by Henry VIII for private use in 1516

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One of the oldest services of its kind anywhere in the world, Royal Mail has been the UK’s market leader in postal delivery since it was founded in 1516. Initially set up by Henry VIII for his own personal use, it was over century later that Royal Mail was made available for the public use in 1635.

Despite attempts to privatise the company in recent years, HM Government is still the largest shareholder in Royal Mail (currently owning around 30% of all available stock). In the face of competition from the likes of DHL, DPD and FedEx, the business still remains the most popular delivery company in Britain – something aided by the fact that Royal Mail is legally bound to provide ‘universal service’ to anywhere in the UK for a fixed price, something that their rivals are unable to match.

Royal Mail post box

Royal Mail’s main product remains first and second class post, but diversification into different forms of delivery has reaped benefits for the business in recent years. In addition to their courier-style Special Delivery service, Royal Mail also offers a number of different ranges for business that largely focus on a variety of franking choices.

One of the many criticisms faced by Royal Mail is a supposed high number of lost or damaged mail – although the company themselves claim that 99.3% of all post arrives without any issue whatsoever. The last accounts given in 2006 showed that Royal Mail are fined around £12 million per year for their errors, with almost half a million letters going missing annually.