The full repercussions arising from Smiths’ News’ latest carriage charge increase were spelled out when senior NFRN officials met with executives from the news wholesaler for a frank and forthright meeting in London on Wednesday (July 25).

The Smiths News representatives had been summoned to Yeoman House to explain why its charges were to increase by up to 3.47 per cent from September and to allow the NFRN to share the furious reaction from members.

After the meeting, National President Mike Mitchelson said: “We told Smiths News its proposed increase was totally unacceptable and we shared the fury and dismay of its customers from all around the country.

“It’s all too easy for news wholesalers to impose, without negotiation, increases on retailers who are unable to pass on the rise to their own customers. But such actions are a real threat to our members’ livelihoods. We have received so many complaints and queries; some members fear that this could be the tipping point that makes the difference to remaining in business or actually selling news products.

“We warned Smith News that with monopoly distribution arrangements and publishers imposing fixed cover prices and trade terms, more independent retailers were fighting to survive and communities were being deprived of their local shops.”

Mr Mitchelson continued: “In future, Smiths News has agreed to meet with us so that in any carriage charge discussions the NFRN can argue the case on behalf of our members before any decision is made rather than afterwards.

“On the subject of service, the NFRN argued that members should automatically receive compensation for serious service failing. It is wrong that members have to fight for restitution when service issues arise. Smiths News agreed to take the proposal away for consideration and come back to us. We will keep members informed of any response that we receive.”

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