Independent retailers have been left reeling after regional newspaper publisher Johnston Press announced it was slashing the retail margin on 41 of its titles to as little as 10 percent.
The massive margin cuts will take effect from Monday (June 26) when the cover prices of the affected titles rise by between 10p and 20p.
NFRN National President Linda Sood said she was “absolutely livid” at the move.
“I’m shell-shocked,” she added. “Johnston Press has displayed complete contempt for hard pressed and hardworking independent retailers who are responsible for such a large percentage of their regional newspaper sales.
“This move is a travesty, made even worse by the fact that there has been no prior consultation.”
NFRN Head of News Brian Murphy said he was equally appalled and had summoned Johnston Press’ Group Publishing Director Richard Thomson to the NFRN’s head office in London to explain the publisher’s action.
Mr Murphy said: “Raising the cover prices by as much as 20p while cutting the retailers’ margin to between 10 per cent and 13 per cent is misguided, unprecedented and downright disgraceful.
“We want some urgent answers from Mr Thomson, not least as to whether independent retailers are the only ones to see such vicious cuts to their margins or whether larger news retailers are having their trading terms hacked too.
“No doubt the NFRN’s phones will be red hot with calls from disgruntled members. What a shame Johnston Press has chosen to announce the cuts via letters due to be sent out today (Friday) rather than actually having the bottle to speak to customers directly via a free phone hotline that retailers could use to register their dismay and disgust.
“Particularly shocking is the fact that we have been given next to no notice of the changes. We, therefore, call on Johnston Press to postpone the price increases and margin cuts for a minimum of six weeks to enable retailers to decide whether they will accept these new terms or to refuse them, as is their right under their terms and conditions of supply.”
The titles affected are:
|Publication||Old Price||New Price||Margin|
|Wigan Evening Post (Mon-Sat)||85p||95p||10%|
|Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser||80p||90p||11%|
|Broughty Ferry Guide and Gazette||90p||£1.00||12.5%|
|Selkirk Weekend Advertiser||65p||75p||12.5%|
|Milngavie & Bearsden Herald||85p||95p||12%|
|Roe Valley Sentinel||£1.45||£1.60||10%|