The future of magazine distributor Comag is in doubt after its owners Hearst UK and Condé Nast Britain announced they are withdrawing from the business.
The revelation comes after the company posted a £3.99m loss last year. The publishers have not yet revealed whether they will be working with an alternative distributor.
An industry source who asked not to be named told RN the closure is an indication of the continued consolidation of the supply chain, following the closure of Smiths and Menzies’ joint venture Worldwide Magazine Distribution and subscriptions management company Dovetail, earlier this year.
“It seems 2017 is the year when it’s all happening,” he said. “Very simply it all means publishers are taking a good look at the retailer supply chain and the middlemen are being hit as volumes are declining.”
NFRN head of news Brian Murphy said he was concerned about a reduction in the number of distributors in operation and that no information about the future supply of Hearst and Condé Nast’s titles has yet been provided to retailers.
“We are concerned about the ongoing distribution of key titles and want to ensure the significant share of sales they enjoy in independent retailers is protected,” he said.
It is not yet known whether Comag Specialist, the company’s dedicated division for specialist and niche titles, will continue. The division offers the highest number of imported titles in the UK.
Mark Dudden of Albany News at the Post Office in Cardiff, described the news as a “bombshell”.
“If Comag closed down altogether that would have a very big impact on my business because it supplies all the specialist and imported titles I sell and it’s those titles that people come to my shop for,” he said.
A joint statement from Hearst and Condé Nast said: “Comag will be consulting with its staff and will also remain in close contact with its clients and suppliers.”