The CEO of Bpost, Koen Van Gerven, has announced he is stepping down with effect from February when his current mandate ends. The decision brings to an end a leadership that was anything but faultless.
Van Gerven came to Bpost in February 2014 after Johnny Thijs left in high dudgeon, having been criticised for the level of his salary and been forced to give part of it up. Van Gerven had been with Bpost since 2006, following a 19-year career with BNP Paribas Fortis, previously Generale Bank.
In the last two years Van Gerven has come under fire over a failed takeover of PostNL in the Netherlands, and later the successful but regrettable takeover of the US company Radial, which cost $820 million although the company turned out to be a loss-maker with high costs.
Structurally, Bpost has suffered from the sharp drop in delivered mail, as people turn more and more to email and to messaging apps: holidaymakers are now more likely to post a photo on Instagram than send a postcard home, and apps have taken the place of everything from private party invitations to news of public events.
Bpost’s share price has fallen from 28 euros in 2018 to 8 or 9 euros now, the situation made worse by a strike for higher pay rotating among the company’s different services.
In a statement, Van Gerven said, “A lot of hard work has been delivered over the past years with the entire team. We’ve successfully tackled multiple challenges and the company knows where it’s heading. The vision, strategy, and plans are clear, and their execution has begun. Recent results have shown that the group is armed with a strong ambition and the right people to respond to the changes of a digitizing world.”
François Cornelis, chair of Bpost’s board, praises the CEO for his work: “Over the past six years, Koen has led the group through a significant transformation of its activities with courage and commitment. He has maintained the company’s societal role in Belgium, reacted appropriately to the changing market and launched new products and services in order to guarantee the sustainable growth of the company.”