Chris Duncan Bauer

Magazine publisher Bauer Media has revealed plans for greater support for independent retailers.

Speaking to betterRetailing, chief executive of UK publishing Chris Duncan said: “Right now, we are focused on maintaining sales levels through another lockdown. The independent retailers saw great sales uplifts in the first round of restrictions, so we will be working closely with them again to make sure they get the copy they need to put money through the tills.”

The former News UK boss also looks set to introduce elements of newspaper retailing to the magazine market, such as home news delivery (HND).

Duncan said: “Bauer Media UK has a desire to engage in home news delivery campaigns and help independents develop this area of their business.”

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With Bauer’s 136 million annual copies sold accounting for more than £1 in every £5 spent on magazines in the UK, the support for HND could provide an additional revenue opportunities for stores.

The move would also represent the first major push for delivery to the doorstep by news sellers from the magazine sector, which more commonly posts subscription copies straight to the reader.

The publisher is also experimenting with other methods of boosting its print revenues, bolstered by the creation of a new head of strategy UK role to be filled by former BBC boss Kaushala Ratnayake.

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Asked about the impact on stores, Duncan said it would build on previous innovation by Bauer such as new launches, special one-shot publications and value packs – bundling similar titles together at a slight combined RRP reduction.

He also revealed ongoing experiments in the UK to find the sweet spot between sales volumes and copy revenues for shops, which he described as “a cover-price strategy including regional tests to drive optimum pricing”.

Careful analysis of the retail network during lockdown has also helped ensure its magazines reach the stores with the best chance of achieving a sale, according to the chief executive.

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He said: “Our distributor, Frontline, has adopted a scientific approach to supply levels and availability since the Covid outbreak. This has enabled us to steal a march on our competition by maximising our sales while operating to profitable sales efficiency levels.”

He added the publisher had been “extremely supportive” of the push to shopping more locally during the pandemic, with support for the NFRN’s Shop Local campaign in its print editions.

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