Retailers are calling for more information from Menzies and Johnston Press after it was confirmed the wholesaler is taking over handling of distribution of the publisher’s Portsmouth News title.

Menzies revealed it was recruiting extra staff to help it take on Portsmouth News’ distribution at a meeting between the wholesaler and NFRN delegates last week.

Retailers have expressed fears the move will lead to increased carriage charge costs and potential problems with late deliveries.

“Menzies told us it was taking extra drivers on and we thought it was to stop the papers coming late,” said NFRN national deputy vice president Linda Sood, of Falcon News in Portsmouth. “But then we found it was taking over delivery from Johnston Press. We thought it was to sort our problems out, because papers are getting so late to our members. We’re awaiting a meeting to find out more.”

NFRN Southern district national councillor Nigel Swan added: “Obviously, carriage charges are a concern for our members. The News does have days when it is late, and if it is late, Menzies won’t wait for the papers.”

Retailers served by Menzies on the south coast have been in constant discussion with the wholesaler over problems with distribution in recent months and have raised long-running issues over late deliveries and other service problems.

A Johnston Press spokesman said: “I can say that I would expect deliveries to be completed earlier via wholesale, which should represent an additional sales opportunity.

“I would also hope that a single supplier arrangement for news and magazines, in terms of goods in, returns and invoicing, would be seen as a positive.”

Menzies was unavailable to comment as Retail Newsagent went to press.