On 18 April 2019, NFRN National President Mike Mitchelson and Vice President Stuart Reddish showed senior Menzies Distribution management that independent news retailers have had enough of punishing carriage charges and poor service after delivering around 1,000 petition cards to the news wholesaler’s Edinburgh head office.
The two men were joined by Antonio Rea, Chairman of the NFRN Scottish news and magazines sub committee, Glasgow member and former Scottish president Rory O’Brien, and NFRN head of news Brian Murphy when they handed over the cards which call for a full, independent and transparent review of the decision making process behind carriage charges.
The cards were accepted by Menzies customer engagement director Linda Gardner and channel manager retail Claire McDonald.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Mitchelson said: “Carriage charges are unfair and illogical and news wholesalers and publishers have to wake up to the fact that when it comes to these costs that independent retailers have had more than enough.
“Indeed, earlier this month retailers served by Menzies Distribution saw their carriage charges rise by an average of nearly 4 per cent. This was a hit that few independent retailers could take, especially as it coincided with steep rises to national minimum wage rates, utility bills and pension contributions.
“The fantastic response we have had to our petition shows how fired up members are about ever increasing and rip-off carriage charges but they blight our lives and threaten the future of small shops in their communities.
“Each year these charges are progressively more damaging to our members’ businesses and the news industry has to be aware that the next round of carriage charges could put many news retailers out of business.”
The NFRN’s Enough’s Enough petition warns that the news retailers are at breaking point, as carriage charges have risen by 20 per cent since 2013.
It continues: “If further reviews and rises continue to take place without consultation or without clear justification, local and traditional community stockists will close in great numbers.
“These closures will accelerate a sharper decline in newspaper and magazine titles being available to consumers.
“I have had ENOUGH of carriage charges, and request that a full and transparent review of the decision making process is undertaken by an independent party at the earliest opportunity.”
The Menzies representatives were asked to take on board the strength of feeling that members had against carriage charges.
Mr Mitchelson added: “We look forward to receiving its feedback and comments in due course.”
The NFRN will continue to campaign against carriage charges after Annual Conference in June and this will be a major focus in 2020.