KIDDERMINSTER'S town centre post office will be relocated next month with a new branch opening in the town's WH Smith store.

The doors will close for the final time on the Crown House facility at 5.30pm on Wednesday, February 3 with a new branch opening just metres away in Vicar Street at 9am the following day.

The move, which was subject to public consultation, is part of a major modernisation programme across the Post Office network to make branches sustainable, profitable and no longer reliant on Government funding. Bosses say it will make it easier for customers to do business through longer opening hours and modern, open-plan branches.

The relocation of Kidderminster’s post office into the town’s WH Smith store will also pave the way for the demolition of Crown House, dubbed a "mouldy eyesore" by Wyre Forest District Council Leader John Campion, to spruce up the town centre. The building is expected to be knocked down once the branch has moved.

Roger Gale, Crown Network general manager, said: “We are committed to keeping a post office branch in Kidderminster and to maintaining the same levels of service for our customers.

"We believe the best way for us to do this is to change the way we operate the branch, so following the move it will be run by WHSmith High Street Ltd rather than by us directly.”

Kidderminster Post Office will have five serving positions following its move, which will be a mixture of three screened and two open-plan counters. The relocated facility will offer the same range of products and services.

Opening hours at the new location will be 9am until 5.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10am until 2pm on Sundays, giving customers six extra hours of service every week, with the branch open seven days.

The move comes after a six-week public consultation, during which Post Office Ltd also hosted a public customer forum to discuss the proposals.

Post Office bosses said it had carefully considered the feedback gathered during the consultation and is "confident that the new branch will be suitably located and that WHSmith will meet customer needs and deliver an excellent service".

Wh Smith has been operating Post Offices within its stores since 2007 and currently runs over 80 branches. There will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the relocation.