May ABC figures

Newspapers are still considered as a high performing industry, according to newspaper industry specialists.

The NFRN held a news summit with industry experts aimed to discuss the future of the newspapers in independent and convenience stores.

The summit was attended by leading newspaper publishers and news wholesalers Smiths News and Menzies Distribution.

The attendees concluded that the £1.7bn-a-year newspaper business had a good future despite its challenges, but that the industry needed to work together to secure it.

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NFRN members shared experiences around the handling and returns processes for vouchers, and publishers and wholesalers agreed to look in the principles of making these paperless.

It was also highlighted as important to create one database of home news delivery retailers and to ensure the data was refreshed regularly.

Accepting that bunching and late newspapers impacted negatively on the service to stores, publishers and wholesalers said they would explore ways of using technology for live updates.

Working groups comprising representatives from all three sectors will now be set up to progress these initiatives.

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Speaking after the summit, NFRN national president Narinder Randhawa said: “Buying a newspaper is still one of the key reasons for customers to come into our members’ stores, so it is important that the printed word survives and thrives.  But it is equally important that independent retailers get the level of service that they deserve.

“I am pleased that we were able to get key colleagues from publishing and news wholesaling in one room for such a positive discussion and that all attendees expressed a willingness to work to work together to safeguard the future of the printed word.”

Smiths News chief executive Jon Bunting added: “It was a really constructive meeting where we focused on the things that both unite us and also where we have differing perspectives. Importantly, we all left with a common understanding of the areas we will look to tackle first.”

It was identified that opportunities existed around retail subscriptions and home news delivery, with more support needed for new retailers who were new to news.

All attendee agreed to meet in six months’ time for an update from the working groups.

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