Customers are pleading with the Post Office to keep its East Finchley branch in the town centre.

The national postal chain last week announced it had earmarked the High Road branch, along with 69 others nationwide, for a private retail merger to save cash.

The proposals could mean the popular branch will move from its current location, depending on the location of the shop it will merge with.

Hema Pattani has owned Pristine dry cleaners next door to the Post Office for the past 15 years and says any move could have a detrimental impact on the area.

She said: “It brings a community feel to the area and to have a long-standing business shut down and moved would be a real shame.

“The footfall it brings is a big factor and it would certainly damage some of the businesses around here, including mine, it if it shut.”

The East Finchley branch is one of 370 remaining ‘Crown’ Post Offices that are owned outright by the publicly-funded organisation.

The Post Office says the stores are losing £40million a year and it is looking to share property costs in at least 70 of them, including East Finchley and Potters Bar, to bring them back into profit.

But the chain has made it clear that if no suitable merger is found, the stores will remain open.

Mrs Pattani said: “The business rates are expensive, so I can see where they’re coming from, but it would be a big loss."

Crown Post Offices offer a wider range of services, including passport and tax disc renewals, than any of the other 11,000 branches across the country.

A five-week consultation will be carried out in East Finchley once a suitable merger is found, but the Post Office says there will be no change in services or staff levels if any move does occur.

Neil Kaufman, of Brim Hill, who was having his tax disc renewed, told the Times Series it is the location of the branch that makes it so popular.

He said: “It is very convenient being right in the middle of town. I’m shocked they would consider moving it.

“There are queues at the branch already and you wonder, if it moves inside a retail shop, they might get worse.”

Barnet’s Labour Group has launched a petition opposing the plans over fears the merger could lead to a drop in service levels.

Wendy Sheridan, who has lived in East Finchley for the past 50 years, said: “We need a local Post Office – it is part of our lives.

“It is very necessary because of all the services it provides. The location is very important because there is nowhere else you can get these services. East Finchley is a village and this is part of our area.”