Local newspaper publishers have been urged to think twice before introducing price rises and margin changes.

The move comes after publisher Reach, formerly Trinity Mirror, refused to rule out increases at its local titles when revealing its figures for the past 12 months.

Its operating profits rose to more than £145m over the past financial year, and while revenue from print grew, like-for-like sales were down by almost 9%.

Savings have been made across print titles, through integration and other elements, while price rises had, Reach noted, helped balance the books. 

It hinted that more may be on the way, noting increases would be brought in “where appropriate”.

The NFRN has urged caution before bringing in more price rises for local newspapers, a move favoured by publishers, often with a margin decrease for retailers. 

NFRN head of news Brian Murphy said: “Just as the need to balance consumer response to cover price increases, it is also evident that publishers need to be more mindful that continual cutting of percentage margin is a simple, not a long-term, solution. 

“Retailers, like publishers, are facing extra costs, such as minimum wage increases, and will be assessing the return from any category often down to product level. 

“While the benefits of frequency of purchase and the frequency of publication needs to be understood, overt carriage charges and the printed RRP are clear barriers to being able to maintain profits, and for many retailers the yardstick measured is the percentage margin versus other products they also sell.”

John Parkinson, owner of Broadway News and Convenience (Premier) in Llandudno, said: “There is a future for local newspapers. I understand what they’re doing, trying to tie people in, get them to pay upfront. But they should have promoted subscriptions before they upped prices.”

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