A dispute between News UK and WHSmith has created an opportunity for independents to boost newspaper sales of both The Times and The Sun.

RN understands WHSmith high street stores around the country have removed the News UK titles from their usual position in newspaper racks at the front of stores amid a dispute with the publishers. Instead, they now sit alongside current affairs magazines.

The NFRN’s head of news Brian Murphy told RN the move represents a clear opportunity for independents to boost sales of the titles.

“Customers expect to find newspapers at the front of the store. If they don’t, it will certainly have an impact on sales and that is to the benefit of independents who will happily supply WHSmith customers,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to capitalise on and gain new customers.”

Linda Sood, of Premier Falcon News in Portsmouth, agreed, calling the display changes “great news” for independents. Her store is located just 320 metres from a WHSmith high street store.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for us. Let them carry on falling out,” she said. “We can increase our sales and if it’s affecting the one on my street I’ll increase my supply of News UK titles.”

Mark Dudden, of Albany News at the Post Office in Cardiff, said the move would be sure to make customers look elsewhere for the titles.

“News is an impulse buy and you have got to put it at the front of the store. Knowing the layout of the WHSmith in Cardiff, I know if they moved them to the magazine section they would be well away from the impulse area near the front and they will lose sales,” he said.

News UK and WHSmith declined to comment.