Menzies Distribution has been accused of broken promises after retailers were hit with carriage charge increases of up to 4% despite a pledge to cut costs.

The wholesaler’s new managing director Forsyth Black told RN in July that he would make the supply chain as “lean as possible” for the benefit of retailers.

Menzies has closed a number of depots in the last year, consolidated magazine packing to a small number of regional ‘hubs’, and will close one its call centres.

But its latest review of carriage charges will see retailers in its top bracket paying £53.45, with many telling RN that it represents an increase of 4% on current charges.

Menzies says the charges are being calculated on a new scale which is more reflective of the costs of serving retailers, based on a flat rate plus a percentage of sales over a 13-week period.

But the NFRN has accused it of a lack of transparency for failing to make clear how much extra it was charging the trade.

Norfolk retailer Owen Church is among those who will be paying the top rate.

My newsbill is down and so are Menzies’ costs, so how can a 4% increase be justified?

“My newsbill is down and so are Menzies’ costs, so how can a 4% increase be justified?” he asked.

Gerald Thomas of Ammanford, Wales, added: “Again, it’s another charge which we have no control over. We have got no choice but to pay it.”

NFRN national president Martyn Brown said: “What we want to know is by how much and by what percentage our carriage charges are increasing and what justification the company has for raising costs when newspaper and magazine sales continue to decline and petrol prices are falling.”

Menzies head of communications Dave Shedden said: “We believe that our charging structure compares favourably to those offered by similar logistics companies – and we will continue working hard to keep it that way.”

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