The latest increases in Menzies’ carriage charges are a “body blow” to stores fighting to keep their news-paper business profitable, retailers and the NFRN have warned. 

From 1 April the news distributor’s delivery charges for UK mainland customers will jump by an average of 2.7%, while retailers in Northern Ireland will see an average 1.5% rise.

Martin Ward, of Cowpen Lane News in Billingham, told RN: “I’m not happy about it. Money and margins are already tight for retailers, so any increase is not welcome. It’s not fair that these increases are happening on an annual basis.”

Menzies blamed changes to the UK’s National Living Wage, which increases by 4.4% in April, and transport costs for bumping up its rates. But store owners said constantly rising rates are now expected every year, rather than being a reflection of the true costs of delivery. The NFRN said charges for receiving a supply from news wholesalers have increased by 25.85% in just seven years.

Northern Irish retailers must also contend with a double-distribution system, with retailers forced to use both Menzies and fellow distributor Newspread to access a full range of national and local publications. 

Judith Mercer, of Hamilton News in Belfast, said: “With the two carriage charges and with the Menzies increase, we’ll be paying nearly £120 a week for newspaper delivery. ”

NFRN head of news Brian Murphy said carriage charges are “outdated”. 

He said: “A complete overhaul of the system is needed before it’s too late and thousands more news retailers become even more disenchanted with the category.”

A Menzies spokesperson told RN: “Although carriage service charges tend to increase over time, the amount we collect still remains less than the total cost to our business of undertaking that work. 

“We remain confident our cost-per-parcel to deliver represents good value.”