Retailers in Northern Ireland have hit out at proposed carriage charge rises saying increased costs will ‘destroy their businesses’.

The comments come after wholesaler EM News wrote to retailers informing them it will be reviewing carriage charges this month.

The company said it will write to retailers by 12 December with the scheduled increase. Wholesaler, Newspread has also informed retailers that the company is changing its charging template.

Northern Ireland retailers already pay the highest carriage charges in the UK because they receive papers from two wholesalers: EM News and Newspread.

Ballymena newsagent, Eugene Diamond, of Diamond’s newsagents, said: “When I started I was selling more than a thousand newspapers a day with no carriage charge. I still sell a lot of newspapers, but I’ve gone from paying nothing to paying around £105 in carriage charges per week. Another hike will just destroy the business. It’s becoming unprofitable.”

John McDowell, of McIntyres in Portstewart, said he had received both letters from EM News and Newspread but, as yet, was unaware of the specifics of the charge hike.

He said: “This is another blow for independents. Newspapers will become a sideline for us because they’re so unprofitable. We either need one wholesaler, which isn’t going to happen, or we need a reduction in charges.”

NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter told RN the federation is in talks with EM News and that a meeting was imminent.

He said: “We understand the pressure on businesses, but we are seeking an outcome that is fair for retailers. We believe the carriage charges in Northern Ireland are too high and we are seeking positive dialogue and a package that appropriately reflects delivery costs.”

Menzies did not respond to RN’s request for a comment.