The RN team’s end of week news wrap

1 – It’s not only indies who are concerned about carriage charges

Menzies Distribution’s forthcoming hike will eat further into the category profits for all but a handful of indies and could be the final straw that makes some smaller retailers look at whether they want to keep selling news and magazines. The chairman of retail marketeer Lucid, Richard Lamb, says supermarkets are already replacing magazines with higher margin products.

2 – Now’s the time to start getting ready for the display ban

Whether retailers are going it alone or working with a tobacco company to get your gantry ready for 6 April 2015, they need to be clear on their options. In next week’s RN, we’ll tell you what some of the major manufacturers are doing to prepare the industry. They’ve got their plans in place and independents should have too.

3 – Low ABV beer is here to stay

Sales of low or zero alcohol beer have risen by 8% in the last year in the off-trade. Brands such as Foster’s Radler, Carling Fruit Coolers and Becks Blue now seem more socially acceptable, according to new research, and are set to stake their claim for space in indies’ chillers.

4 – The government seems to be waking up on illicit tobacco

HM Revenue & Customs has announced a new approach to tackle the scourge of fake and non-UK duty paid tobacco. It will involve an intensive wave of checks on shops, warehouses and storage units. It doesn’t sound like rocket science and the trade has been urging exactly this sort of action for some time. Nevertheless, it’s reassuring to see some resources behind the fight.

5 – Newstrade leading the way on technology

It wouldn’t be entirely unfair to say that the newstrade has lagged behind some other areas of the industry when it comes to service levels. But the smartphone apps developed by both Smiths and Menzies in recent months put all of the grocery wholesalers to shame.