News UK ups Times price, but cuts margins 

News UK has slashed retailer percentage margins on the Times to the lowest of any major newspaper as part of its latest price rise. 

Retail pence profits per copy will be frozen as part of the price rises, starting on 10 June. 

This means the 30p rise on Monday-to-Friday editions to £2.80 will see retailer terms plummet from 20% to 17.9%. 

Saturday editions will rise 50p to £3.50, but retailer terms fall from 20% to 17.1%. 

The Sunday Times will increase by 50p to £4, but retailer terms will fall from 20% to 17.5%. 

The margin freeze will last six months until 9 December, at which point all titles will revert to 20% gross margin, equivalent to an extra 6p profit per weekday copy, 10p per Saturday copy and 10p per Sunday Times copy. 

In a letter sent to stores announcing the change, publisher News UK defended the temporary terms cut. 

Read more: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: News UK outlines its support for convenience stores

It stated that Times print subscription sales are “now the majority source of print volumes” for the editions, and that cover price rises “do not immediately transfer to subscription rates”. 

The claim suggests a rapid change from its public ABC results reported in 2020, which showed casual copy sales outperforming subscription sales on every day of the week, including by more than double on weekend editions. 

For roundsman and shop owner James Wilkinson in Yorkshire, only around 40% of his total Times sales are voucher copies. 

He told RN: “Why should we foot the bill for their subscription strategy? With the upcoming closure of News UK’s Knowsley print site and the headache it will cause for stores, they need all the retailer goodwill they can get, and this is the opposite. 

“If they are going to follow the Telegraph’s strategy of cutting our margins for half the year, they can expect no support for their promotions and higher delivery charges for their customers.” 

A spokesperson from the Fed told RN they were opposed to “deferred pay-outs”. The group called on News UK to explain how the margin saving on casual sales will be invested in retailers and whether wholesaler margin rises were also being deferred. 

The publisher’s letter read: “As the UK’s leading quality title, The Times and Sunday Times generate over a quarter of a billion pounds in retail sales value. 

“Retaining a regular newspaper-purchasing habit drives additional spend in stores each day.” 

The price-and-margin changes for international and Irish editions of The Sunday Times sold in northern Ireland will change in line with mainland UK editions. 

Subscription vouchers will be credited at the new cover price from 10 June. 

Read more news and advice about the newspaper and magazines category and click here for the latest ABC circulation figures


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