The claim comes after Newspread revealed it would be raising its carriage charges by nearly 4% last month. Mercer told betterRetailing: “It’s been tragic. I’ve been hit hard by this because my news bill has gone up by two bands, meaning I now pay £140 a week.”

Most retailers in the region were unaware of the planned increase due to what they described as a “lack of communication from the wholesaler”.

“Newspread put a line at the bottom of our delivery note, which was missed by a lot of us, and then about four-to-five weeks later we noticed the increase,” said Mercer. 

“In fairness to Menzies, at least they always notify us of things like this. Newspread kept this under the radar.”

NFRN national president Stuart Reddish said: “The NFRN will not accept underhand behaviour and we will be consulting our lawyers and asking them to investigate whether Newspread acted lawfully. 

“We are also demanding an urgent meeting with Newspread to register our shock and to get the news wholesaler to explain its actions.”

Mercer added that retailers are struggling to stay profitable. “News is hard to do and retailers are being forced into investing in other areas of the business,” she said. 

“I recently invested £7,500 in an ice cream machine and I probably won’t benefit from it this year. There’s something desperately wrong with the newstrade.”

Newspread were unable to provide a comment by the time betterRetailing went to print.