News retailers were dealt a double body blow on Wednesday (October 5) with the publisher of the Daily Mail announcing a cut in margin on its Saturday edition as a production glitch caused chaos in the north of England.
At 6am the publisher announced that from this Saturday the price of the Daily Mail would rise 10p to £1 – the first increase in five years. At the same time the margin that retailers receive would be cut to 21 per cent to bring the newspaper in line with that offered on its Sunday stablemate.
Newsagents already bruised by this news were further affronted when production issues meant 160,000 copies had to be rerun. In some of the 8,504 shops affected, supplies were as much as six hours late and others did not receive any deliveries at all.
To make matters worse, in a formal statement issued to the trade eight hours later, the Mail described the incident as “an unexpected production issue” and claimed that it resulted in “delayed deliveries in some areas”.
It added that it continued to invest in technology to make printing processes as reliable and efficient as possible, adding: “However, occasionally issues beyond our control do cause disruption to deliveries. We understand the frustration this can cause….. and we will do everything we can to ensure papers are delivered to retailers as quickly as possible.”
Chief executive Paul Baxter said: “It was a huge blow to discover on Wednesday morning that a publisher that has previously been quite supportive of independent retailers has decided to increase the cover price of its Saturday paper in difficult trading conditions but not pass on the full increase to its stockists.
“There was then a double blow to retailers in the north as some of them did not receive their copies at the time expected and had to wait up to six hours before finally getting their supplies, while others did not receive their deliveries at all. To add insult to injury the response from the Daily Mail was both weak and pathetic. There was no apology for such lateness and its claim that it continues to invest in technology was particularly hard to swallow when the production issue occurred at the Oldham print site which is actually owned by Trinity Mirror.”
Mr Baxter also criticised the Daily Mail for its poor delivery performance during 2016. According to data obtained from the NDM, the Mail has been rerun on 158 occasions. Meanwhile, between January and September this year it missed the cut off into wholesaler 742 times – the highest number of any national newspaper.
Head of news Brian Murphy said that the NFRN would do whatever was necessary to ensure that service standards and contingencies improved and it would be encouraging members who suffer persistent late deliveries to ensure that they claim restitution.