NFRN calls for an end to rip off carriage charges as Smiths News announces increases of average 2.1 per cent.

NFRN National President Mike Mitchelson has renewed calls for “rip off” carriage charges to be scrapped as news wholesaler Smiths News announced that from September there would be an average increase of 2.1 per cent.

Today (Friday July 20), more than 12,000 Smiths News customers will be receiving letters advising that their carriage charge will rise by an average of 91p per week from September 2. Only 1,564 news retailers will benefit from a reduction.

NFRN National President Mike Mitchelson described the increase as a “bitter blow”, particularly as it came less than a year after members had gathered outside Smiths News’ Swindon head office to protest against spiralling carriage charges and abysmal service.

“On September 18 last year NFRN members told Smiths News that “Enough’s Enough” and that the financial burdens placed on independent retailers by news wholesalers were putting the future of their businesses and their local communities in jeopardy,” Mr Mitchelson explained.   “As a result of our protest, Smiths News vowed to review members’ concerns and admittedly it did put in place some measures to address the service issues.  Sadly, however, the issue of rising carriage charges has fallen on deaf ears.”

Mr Mitchelson continued: “Both news wholesalers and publishers use rising labour costs and increases to the RPI to plead poverty and increase their charges or cut our terms but they need to realise that our pot is empty too.

“Come September some retailers will be paying nearly £60 a week for their newspapers and magazines to be supplied. How are they expected to make money from the category when these rip off charges are increased annually with no prior consultation with the retailers involved? It’s high time that carriage charges are scrapped completely.”

Mr Mitchelson said that as well as seeking a meeting with Smiths News to protest at the highest level, the NFRN would be making the Competition and Markets Authority aware of this latest hike.

“Publishers will also be told in no uncertain terms that no longer can they turn a blind eye to the greed of news wholesalers and that they must intervene before even more retailers exit the category. This means improving the margin that news wholesalers get for handling their newspapers so we can see an end to the outdated and unfair carriage charge.

“And the Press Distribution Forum should hang its head in shame too as it exists to address and find solutions to issues relating to news and magazine distribution but it fails spectacularly when it comes to taking action on carriage charges.”

This article was first posted on 20 July 2018.

What members are saying


As we have been an independent business for over 30 years trading – I think maybe the charge is fair but I think the percentage each retailer makes should be higher – 25 % is ridiculous these days especially with so many retailers closing because they don’t have the right product mix. We average £4,000 a week sales from mags and news papers and to think all the hard work is only for £1000 is ridiculous.

No business other than news runs on 25% – never mind all the phone calls when deliveries are short, recharges, returns are short and then arguing over totes not actually being delivered.


I complained last time they put it up. I have reason to complain every week for the last twelve years – a substandard service deserves a reduction not a raise but the people who hold newsagents to ransom use us because there is no one else, pat themselves on the back, give each other pay rises and bonuses and tell each other what a good job they do. Well us lowly newsagents, who lose money week on week know what the truth is – it is basically a bad service, and they want more money.


I totally understand the ire felt at the raise, but Smiths News’ only target is the three monthly shareholders report. Once that goes below a certain figure they will pull the plug and what happens then.


I’m very unhappy about the carriage charge increase, and can’t afford an extra £100 per year as I already work 70 hour weeks for very little profit. It is alright for the co-op over the road as they can absorb these costs by adding a penny here and a penny there onto products but I can’t do this.


Not happy with CSC increase, feels like we are being bombarded with increases and the independents are the ones suffering as we can’t pass on increases to our customers.


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