Smiths said the increase reflected its rising costs over the past year, but the NFRN and retailers have responded negatively to the decision.

The announcement comes a day after it announced plans to roll out a new automatic compensation scheme for later deliveries which was seen as an important step forward by a number of retailers.

Smith News CEO Jonathan Bunting told betterRetailing it was a difficult decision and one that was taken with the challenges retailers face in mind.

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“The decision to increase our delivery service charges has not been taken lightly; we are mindful of the impact it will have on our customers and where we can – we have limited the charges accordingly,” he said.

“We are committed to investing in and improving our service offer to all our customers. The 2% rise means that the average weekly increase for retailers will be £0.93 per week. Over 3,000 customers will see no change or a reduction to their DSC as a result of the review.”

NFRN’s national president Stuart Reddish added: “Yesterday, NFRN members who are served by Smiths News applauded the news wholesaler for taking the bold step of automatically compensating its retail customers for materially late supplies. 

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“Today, those same members are enraged and are accusing Smiths News of giving with one hand and taking with the other.

“This is yet another nail in the coffin for independent retailers who are struggling to pay their bills in such a challenging trading environment.

“Smiths News tries to justify its actions by saying the increase is 93p per week but this means that hard-pressed news retailers are going to have to find nearly £50 a year to pay for a service that can be far from acceptable.”