As print continues to grapple with the online world, many retailers are pulling back
on news and mags in favour of growth areas such as food to go.
But in Richard and Donna Evans’ Worcestershire newsagents, the category has gone from strength to strength – fuelled by growth in home news delivery (HND).
“Two newsagents closed down nearby and we took on their HND,” Richard explains. “We now have 12 paper boys and girls working from Monday to Saturday, and another nine on Sunday.”
Together, this fleet delivers around 300 newspapers a day, with The Times, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail bestsellers – a lucrative set-up, with each Telegraph generating four times the revenue of a single Sun.
Richard and Donna bought Ombersley Road Post Office & Newsagents in 2001. At the time, Richard worked in sales for the robotics industry, while Donna was working for the Post Office and itching for a new challenge. For two years after they took over the store, Richard juggled his full-time role with overseeing the newsagent side of the business – before its success made this impossible, and he quit to dedicate himself to retail.
The building itself consisted of two terraced houses knocked into one, so shortly after acquiring it they took the opportunity to redo the space, removing the chimneys and shaping it more like a shop.
They did this with support from the Post Office, which at the time was cutting back their network, but had bookmarked Ombersley Road for growth. “Two other postmasters near us wanted to retire anyway, so everything fell into place,” Richard recalls.
The post office now offers a range of services to customers from miles around, and underwent a second revamp as part of the Post Office’s network transformation programme in 2014.
Building up the newsagents has proven more challenging. Success has depended on being adaptable and finding a niche in the local business eco-system.
“We’re in a small parade of shops and have two Co-ops, each 500 yards away,” Richard explains.
This has led to the store focusing on cultivating categories that set it apart from nearby businesses. Greetings cards are a major part of this strategy. As well as more generic greetings cards, the store’s range encompasses local pictures and postcards featuring Worcester Cathedral and panoramas of the Malvern Hills.
Richard and Donna have also developed a large stationery range.
“We currently source from Williams of Swansea and Perkins Group Services,” Richard says. “They’re our fourth or fifth stationary wholesalers, as others have gone bust.”
The shifting demographics of the local area provide a boost to stationery sales, with an increasing number of young families moving in.
“You’d be surprised how many schoolchildren realise in the morning they need some stationery for that day.”
Making a newsagents prosper isn’t easy in the current climate. But by adapting to the local environment, and maintaining a hawk’s eye for gaps and opportunities, Richard and Donna have established a thriving business.