Newspaper delivery issues packaging

Wholesalers and publishers need to work on a long-term plan to ensure timely newspaper deliveries as the industry gets to grips with driver shortages, the NFRN has said.

The federation said it accepts that the shortages and ongoing problems caused by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic is likely to continue until the end of the year, but called for the industry to make plans for 2022 and beyond to sort out problems facing newspaper deliveries to retailers.

NFRN national president Stuart Reddish told betterRetailing that, while there are still problems, wholesalers particularly need to communicate challenges to retailers as early as possible in the morning.

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He said: “We have to accept the short-term pain, which will run until probably Christmas. We know publishers and wholesalers are working hard to limit the damage, we know they’ve listened, we know they are working on contingency plans and we know it’s all hands to the pump. But we need to know they are working on longer-term plans, too.”

Reddish said ongoing problems such as delivery times needed to be assessed as, in the drive to make their businesses more cost effective, wholesalers have made changes that haven’t always worked.

“Deliveries need to be fit for purpose going forward. We need to look at NDMs and RDTs. And cut-off extensions need to be the exception, not the rule,” he added.

Andrew White, of Woottons Farm Dairy HND service, based around Exeter, told betterRetailing: “I usually get a message on SNapp to tell me what time the driver has left. It would be nice to know an hour earlier rather than when it’s too late.”

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He said the major problem was now with Saturday delivery times. “Wholesalers blame the in-bound times, but as far as publishers are concerned, they’ve done their duty and got there in the nick of time. Wholesalers just use it as an excuse.”

He added, “I think the model needs changing. Saturdays are the real bugbear and that’s what a lot of newsagents tell me.”

In recent months, retailers have told betterRetailing they have had to visit their nearest newspaper wholesale depot themselves following a lack of communication over missing deliveries.

They added that the carriage charge being paid wasn’t reflective of the level of service they have been receiving.

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