Menzies is said to be taking further steps to protect timely deliveries in Scotland following the Fed-organised joint industry group (JIG) meeting of retailers and publishers in April.
Minutes from the JIG meeting seen by Better Retailing highlight concerns that cost savings by the wholesaler are affecting its “contingency plans”.
According to the notes, leading national and regional publishers said the wholesaler was “not using the contingency plans that are in place”, including a “big issue” where spare vans have not been available when needed.
One publisher said this could resolve many of the company’s “vehicle problems”, thought to include later arrivals into depots by small publishers resulting in delays to all titles, rather than re-runs. One publisher said changes meant they “do not have the contacts at the depots they used to have”. They added: “Formal conversations should be taking place when changes are being made at the depot that involve publishers.”
The notes show publishers reassured stores that steps were being taken by Menzies to resolve the challenges, including two of Menzies’ national operations mangers “spending time in Scotland to review contingencies amongst other things, with a particular attention on Aberdeen and Inverness”. The wholesaler was said to be “looking at the delivery data daily” as part of efforts to make sure it was hitting its key performance metrics. The notes also claimed Menzies was due to feed operational changes back to publishers in early May.
Data from the month period before the 18 April meeting suggested publishers were also causing delays, with 10 titles only hitting their scheduled arrival times into Menzies’ depots in Scotland on 55% or fewer days during the period.
Fed Scotland news committee chair and meeting attendee David Robertson, of Pozzi Newsagents in Buckie, told Better Retailing: “Everyone’s costs are rising, so we understand that Menzies has to look at delivery and costs, but they have to do that in a way that doesn’t cut the service, protects the trade and that is respectful to people who have been doing the job for a long time. There must be transparency between it and newsagents.”
Asked about its cost-saving efforts in Scotland, a Menzies spokesperson told Better Retailing: “Ensuring the sustainability of the newstrade supply chain is core to Menzies. We work with supply chain partners on an ongoing basis to continually review and optimise our operation while ensuring service excellence and customer satisfaction remain our priority at all times.
“In so doing, we are able to provide a quality and reliable newspaper and magazine delivery service for the long term. If retailers have any questions or concerns, our team is always on hand to help.”
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