Around £8 million worth of special Olympic and Paralympic stamps were sold during the London 2012 Games.

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The sales helped the Post Office to increase its profits.

The stamps featured Team GB and ParalympicsGB members who won gold medals and proved to be hugely popular with consumers and collectors.

More than 500 branches opened on Sundays during the Games, many for the first time, so the stamps could be sold the day after a gold medal victory.

In its first trading statement since being separated from the Royal Mail, the Post Office said its operating profit in the first half of the financial year was £61 million, up by £5 million on the same period last year.

Turnover increased by £16 million to £501 million, with “continued strong performance” in the mail business, especially packets and special deliveries.

The Post Office separated from the Royal Mail Group in April, becoming an independent business.

Jo Swinson, minister for postal affairs, said: “I am pleased to see Post Office continuing to make progress as an independent business, and these results show that with the support of this Government, Post Office’s management has successfully been able to reverse two decades of decline.

“Post Office has achieved a considerable amount in these past six months and I firmly believe this provides the business, and its stakeholders, with a strong platform for continued growth and development in the future.”

A Communication Workers Union spokesman said: “The Post Office results are good so we now want the company to reward staff for contributing to this success.

“Over 4,000 Crown Office staff have been waiting for a pay rise since April while other people in the organisation have had increases.

“Now that we all know the Post Office finances are positive we hope that management will reward the staff who have been so instrumental in making the Post Office a success.”