Delivery charges are “spiralling out of control”, the NFRN has said, after Smiths News announced it was adding a new cost to its bill.

The wholesaler outlined changes to its annual review in a letter to customers last week, including the introduction of a labour cost into the indexation formula.

The letter states the review concluded the current formula “no longer reflects the key drivers of our distribution costs”, adding “various changes in labour legislation over the last decade have not been factored in”.

The labour cost will lead to an increase of 1.72%, in addition to an increase on the standing and maximum charge, which will come into effect in November for retailers who opted for the variable rate last year.

“An alternative has to be sought,” said Brian Murphy, NFRN head of news.

“Publishers and wholesalers have a responsibility to ensure a vibrant news market.”

Sukhdeep Balaghan, of Long Lane Post Office, said: “I think we’re already paying too much for the delivery charges.

“We always assumed that the labour rates would have been included.”