News retailers in Northern Ireland have reacted with horror and dismay at the Irish News’ move to increase its cover price while reducing the retail margin by 2 per cent.
Following its first increase for two years, the newspaper now sells for 90p but the margin that its stockists receive has fallen again this time from 20 per cent to 17.778 per cent. Prior to October 2014 retailers received a margin of 22 per cent.
The NFRN is now seeking an urgent meeting with the newspaper’s managing director Dominic Fitzpatrick and will be taking independent retailers along to quiz him on this unpalatable move and to ask why they should continue to sell the product. The NFRN understands that a leading multiple in Northern Ireland has already delisted the title and removed copies from their shelves.
Commenting, NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “What makes this move particularly disturbing is that it has come completely out of the blue. No doubt when we challenge the publisher it will claim that its costs are increasing while its advertising revenue is dropping but overheads for independent retailers are rising too.
“As well as the introduction of the national living wage earlier this year and new minimum wage rates last month members are having to contend with additional costs associated with auto enrolment along with carriage charges that go up on a yearly basis. Every time this happens our members question their loyalty and commitment to the newspaper category and news products are given less prominence and effort than before.
“It is deeply disappointing that our members’ takings are being further depleted by this unexpected, unnecessary and arrogant cut in margin and this is a move that the NFRN will not be taking lightly.
“We would also be interested to know if news retailers are the only losers from this move or whether the margin that the news wholesaler receives has been reduced too.
“The Irish News’ penny pinching could have some dire consequences as we already know that it has been delisted by one leading multiple while others are seriously considering withdrawing their support, ” Mr Baxter concluded.