News UK says it will explore how it can use leading HND agents to fulfil subscriptions as it markets its delivery capabilities to new publishing clients.
Its newly relaunched distribution arm Newssolutions is marketing its printing and distribution capabilities to prospective partners and says it can cut supply chain costs and share economies of scale.
Newssolutions will initially use its direct to consumer (DTC) operation within the M25 to distribute its latest clients, Times Educational Supplement and the Jewish Chronicle.
London retailers have voiced concerns that it will be “another nail in the coffin” for HND.
But commercial director of operations Tracey Hart said the direct delivery service would not compete with existing HND agents and added that News UK was keen to work with agents outside of London.
“Those copies that go through direct distribution are postal subscriptions and currently bypass the retail network,” she said.
“I have spoken to roundsmen about distributing outside of our current network. There are those who are looking at drop-deals and distribution rates rather than purely retail margin.”
News UK chief executive Mike Darcey said the publisher found subscriptions “more attractive than the daily transaction”.
There’s a home delivery network and we want to look at how that could work for us
Chief operating officer Chris Taylor said the publisher would consider bypassing wholesale and working directly with newsagents to serve subscription customers in new territories. “There’s a home delivery network and we want to look at how that could work for us,” he said.
“With subscriptions and that direct delivery network, it would have to bypass wholesale but it wouldn’t have to bypass retail.”
London retailers told RN they feared titles being distributed directly by News UK would be aggressively marketed. Edgware newsagent Kamal Thaker said: “They will be competing with our last remaining unique selling point.
“As someone who has already lost a lot of customers to direct subscriptions, I would like some assurance that News UK won’t be targeting my customers.”