Less than a week after NFRN members laid bare their concerns about spiralling carriage charges in parliament, Menzies Distribution has landed a body blow by announcing an average increase of 2.7 per cent to them and rises of 1.5 per cent for Northern Ireland and 1.9 per cent for the Republic of Ireland.
These increases are set to take effect from April 1 2018.
NFRN National President Linda Sood said: “On Tuesday February 20 our members made clear to MPs the financial burdens that ever increasing carriage charges and employment costs were piling onto their businesses, putting jobs and even shops at risk. Today (Monday) one of the only two main news wholesalers has confirmed that it is to pile on yet more pressure, increasing its delivery charges by nearly 3 per cent. This news is unwelcome and disheartening.
“As our Independent Retail Report for 2018 makes clear the charges for receiving a supply from news wholesalers have increased by a whopping 25.85 per cent over just seven years yet the service our members receive has deteriorated with a massive 87,819 complaints to our helpline service NFRN Connect in the same period.
“Over that time members have had to contend with rising employment costs, too. Yet Menzies conveniently ignores the difficult trading conditions that many news retailers find themselves in. Enforced carriage charges deny retailers a large slice of the margin they should receive from selling newspapers and magazines. That’s why the NFRN wants the whole system reviewed.”
Agreeing, NFRN head of news Brian Murphy added: “Carriage charges are outdated. If there is not a complete overhaul then we will step up our calls for a review into the whole news wholesale distribution network before it’s too late and thousands more news retailers become even more disenchanted with the category.”
With just over a month to go until the increases take effect, the NFRN will be calling on Menzies management to explain their actions to the National Executive Committee and to National Council and will be lobbied to think again.
Mr Murphy added: “As Prime Minister Theresa May has just announced a review into the future of local and national newspapers we will also be making her aware of this unacceptable increase in carriage charges as the future of the retailers who sell these products will be further jeopardised.”