A groundbreaking new partnership will allow thousands of retailers to buy magazines on sale or return from their local cash and carry without paying carriage charges.

Designed to provide access to magazines for stores that do not have a news wholesaler account, a ‘limited range’ of top selling magazines will be supplied to the cash and carry by Smiths News and made available to retailers in Abra Wholesale’s Edmonton depot.

The service, created by the north London wholesaler in partnership with magazine specialists Lucid launches in the week beginning 24 May. Retailers buy and return the magazines to the depot, with Abra Wholesale then returning the unsolds they receive back to Smiths News. While the model means there are no carriage charges or fees for stores, the retail margin is 15% margin, lower than the industry standard of 25%. Newspapers are not included in the service.

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According to Lucid, the scheme is designed to ‘extend the footprint’ of locations where customers can access magazines. betterRetailing understands more than half of Abra’s top retailer accounts do not currently sell the category.

Free-standing display units from leading newspaper and magazine shop fixtures provider Bartuf will be available alongside the range in cash and carry. Newspapers are not included in the scheme, meaning stores wishing to sell daily titles must still have a news wholesale account.

Abra Wholesale founder and director Dee Thaya told betterRetailing he had been trying to launch the new magazine service for nearly four years, and was hopeful the model can be adopted elsewhere in the UK. “This is a great opportunity for the magazine publishers, wholesalers and most importantly for our independent retailers,” he said.

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The director told betterRetailing: “The idea is to allow retailers to get hold of the top selling titles, and we’re looking to add collectables such as football stickers as well.”

Lucid boss Richard Lamb said: “It’s a fantastic concept, and it all comes from Dee Thaya’s passion for supporting independent retailers. It will be the top 30 or so titles ranged in depot to allow retailers to offer a what might be a 10 or so title range in their store. This will include things such as women’s weeklies, women’s monthlies, TV listings and puzzle magazines. They pick them up and drop them back as part of their normal cash and carry runs.”

Abra Wholesale is not the only cash and carry to have expressed interest in supplying newspapers and magazines. In 2016, Naeem Khaliq, Day-Today symbol group controller at United Wholesale Scotland, told betterRetailing: “It’s not easy working with Menzies so we are looking at doing magazines and newspapers ourselves and with other wholesalers who have symbol groups to give an alternative route to market.

“We have direct-to-store deliveries for bread and a big chunk of our customers come into cash and carries every morning to buy bread and milk, so I don’t see it being any different.”

Retailers picking up their magazines from cash and carries instead of directly from a news wholesaler has the potential to damage a key revenue stream for news wholesalers – carriage charges. However, RN understands that due to the territorial monopoly enjoyed by Smiths News and Menzes, the firms are ‘obliged’ to supply any cash and carry that requests news or magazine deliveries.

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