Late delivery? No carriage charge

Carriage charges should be scrapped whenever newspapers arrive late, visiting NFRN national president Linda Sood told retailers.

Mrs Sood said publishers should be aware that independents were already downgrading display space for newspapers amid falling margins.

The additional frustration of supply disruption was only making matters worse for the industry.

“Retailers are putting news at the back of their shops so they have more room for other products which have better margins,” she said.

“Retailers pay for a service which is not properly delivered because the papers are so late. I believe every time papers are late we should get our carriage service charge back.”

How have your tobacco sales and ranges changed in the two months
since EUTPD II legislation took effect?

Cigarette brands now seem less important to customers than they used to be. People come in and ask for the cheapest cigarettes – as long as the strength is right they don’t really care about the manufacturer.

Bridget McNulty

The Paper Shop, Honiton

We’ve got gaps because manufacturers haven’t been able to supply enough plain packs. Imperial took back £2,000 worth of stock but we’re still waiting for BAT and JTI. We’ve also lost customers who used to buy the smallest 10g tobacco packs.

Russell Haynes

Brittox News, Devizes

The change hasn’t been as noticeable as I feared. Customers are now buying cigarettes more on price than on brand but we seem to have retained our margins and most of our profits. Ranges are largely unchanged – no brand has dropped off.

Ray Monelle

Orchard News, Weston-super-Mare

News supply ‘not sustainable

The NFRN is in the ‘early stages’ of referring news wholesalers to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the meeting heard.

Former national president Ray Monelle told delegates the current news supply model wasn’t sustainable – a fact he said had been recognised by Menzies in meetings with the NFRN.

But he added: “The problem is going to be the magazines which ride on the back of news. Running split delivery systems won’t work.

“The referral to the CMA is aimed at proving a point – it’s not costeffective for retailers to keep news anymore, so consumers are losing out.”

However, Steve Berry warned: “Be careful what you wish for. You’re talking about the death of home news delivery if you go down that road.”


Bank closures damage business

Delegates urged the federation to lobby cabinet ministers harder on the increasing headwinds facing micro-businesses.

Torrington newsagent Roy Crawford said trade in his town centre had ‘died’ following the closure of its last bank branch.

Shoppers had relied on its free ATM machine and were now more attracted to out-of-town retail sites where free cash withdrawals could be made.

Mr Crawford said the bank closure followed a series of financial blows to independent businesses such as his, including the National Living Wage, increased business rates and pension auto-enrolment.

“We’ve had to reduce hours at our shop,” he said. “The federation needs to move up a gear in lobbying ministers directly.

“We should tell them: ‘Please, do no more damage to small business’.”

Linda Sood said NFRN officials were working with groups such as the British Independent Retailers Association and the Association of Convenience Stores to put maximum pressure on government.


Supplements not being delivered

A national councillor has condemned Smiths News over its failure to deliver full versions of the Sunday Times.

Gloucestershirebased roundsman John Jackson said staff at the wholesaler’s Reading depot told him his Sunday Times supplements were ‘no longer being printed by The Times and therefore will not be supplied’.

Linda Sood said: “They don’t seem to realise customers won’t buy the paper without the supplement.”

Fellow roundsman Jeff Savage added: “It’s like having part of the front page missing. If they don’t provide the full newspaper you should claim a full credit.”

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