Eight in ten independent retailers feel let down by their news wholesaler for supporting a trial that sees two children’s titles supplied exclusively to multiples and supermarkets.

The results were revealed from a poll on the NFRN website which showed that eighty per cent of members were disappointed with Smiths News and Menzies Distribution for allowing the trial of Egmont’s Toxic and Lego Star Wars publications in their Wakefield and Newcastle depots to continue.

Under this scheme, which was denounced as “hare-brained” by NFRN National President Mike Mitchelson when first announced, multiple retailers are supplied with their copies of the two Egmont publications first, with independents receiving their unsolds some four to six weeks later.

Both news wholesalers have also been heavily criticised for failing to respond to individual NFRN members’ complaints. After the trial was unveiled, several members wrote to senior news wholesaler representatives including Smiths News chief executive Jon Bunting and Menzies managing director Greg Michael. Around a dozen letters were sent, but to date only one retailer has received a reply.

Commenting on the Egmont trial, Mr Mitchelson said: “This is a real game changer for the magazine supply chain and the NFRN and its members are aghast that while independent retailers are apoplectic, Egmont, its distributor Seymour, Smiths News and Menzies Distribution are simply burying their heads in the sand. Through Egmont’s actions – which are deeply unfair – retailers are reduced to second class outlets. We are now some weeks into the trial but despite repeated requests, no-one from the publisher, distributor or either wholesaler has made the NFRN aware of the measurements that are being used to decide whether it is successful or not.

“In addition, this has to be adding cost into the supply chain but we are none the wiser over who is paying for the returns to the processed.”

Head of News Brian Murphy added: “Just this week I have seen many copies of returned magazines which are destined for re-distribution yet were in such a bad state that reusing them is highly unlikely and a fruitless waste of resource that can better be used elsewhere.”

The NFRN is due to make strong representations to senior executives from Seymour – the company that distributes Egmont’s titles – at a meeting in early December.

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