Menzies Distribution lorry

Independent retailers were left hundreds of pounds out of pocket last week after lorries belonging to Menzies got caught up in a queue of traffic waiting to cross into Europe from Dover.

betterRetailing understands a lorry driver from Menzies’ Ashford depot followed signage for HGVs on the M20, leading them to get stuck in ‘Operation Brock’ – a traffic system on the London-bound carriageway designed to help avoid gridlock for vehicles wanting to cross into Calais.

Sources confirmed the lorry was carrying copies of various Reach titles, including the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and the Racing Post.

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As a result, store owners received their newspapers up to seven hours late, with some not arriving at all.

Hitesh Pandya, owner of Toni’s News in Ramsgate, Kent, told betterRetailing he lost approximately £300 due to the delays. “It was atrocious,” he said.

“Papers published by Reach didn’t even get here. This has had a massive impact on my takings. I’ve lost around £250 on newspaper sales alone, and an extra £50 at least keeping my driver waiting.”

Multiple store owners also told betterRetailing they were forced to pick up leftover copies from the depot once they were informed of the delays.

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As a result, Pandya has called on the wholesalers to compensate affected stores. “We would like them to pay us restitution for the day, and cut one week’s delivery charge. It isn’t our duty as store owners to worry about their logistics,” he said.

Hemanshu Patel, owner of Saltwood General Stores in Hythe, Kent, added: “It’s their responsibility, not mine, to find an adequate number of drivers to deliver the service that they’re charging for.”

The Fed has also confirmed it is communicating with wholesalers to discuss a contingency plan to avoid the problem happening again. A spokesperson said: “We would ask these publishers to consider compensation for the lost sales and profits retailers have suffered because of this.”

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A spokesperson for Menzies told betterRetailing: “Menzies remains committed to its role in the newstrade end-to-end supply chain and delivering service excellence for our customers.

“If a customer has any individual queries or concerns, we would encourage them to contact us via our dedicated customer service centre or i-Menzies.” Reach declined to comment.

In addition, betterRetailing understands a News UK van suffered delays on the same day, affecting deliveries of The Sun, The Times and The Telegraph.

Reruns were carried out later in the day.

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