Britain's Royal Mail said first-half operating earnings more than trebled as higher profit from branch and express parcel operations offset persistent losses on letter delivery.
The state-owned postal operator, which the government is hoping to privatise, lifted operating profit to 67 million pounds from 22 million the year before.
The necessary measures we implemented earlier in the year -- increasing our prices and tight cost control -- are a key part of our strategy to return Royal Mail to sustained financial viability, CEO Moya Greene said on Monday.
They are beginning to deliver results. But, we have a great deal to do.
Royal Mail, which delivers around 59 million items every day to 29 million British addresses, said operating losses on letters and parcels fell to 41 million pounds in the six months to September 25 from 55 million the year before.
The improvement partly reflected a rise in the price of a first class postage to 46 pence from 41 pence.
The loss was offset by a 58 million pound profit from Royal Mail's European and British express parcel service GLS and a 55 million pound profit from its post office branch network.
Under a major programme of job cuts, Royal Mail shed over 5,000 workers in the past 12 months, including almost 2,000 in its head office and other managerial roles.
Royal Mail said trading conditions would remain challenging and it would explore more cost cuts while remaining committed to
deliveries every day except Sunday.
Industry regulator Ofcom has proposed that Royal Mail, which made a 120 million pound loss on its letters business last year, will be able to charge as much as it wants in the future for first-class stamps.
(Reporting by Matt Scuffham)