With a clutch of big titles set to hit the shelves in February and March, retailers have been told to be patient over the lack of new partwork titles available in January. 

The post-Christmas market is usually profitable for the sector, with new titles going nationwide in late December and early January, supported by marketing materials. However, with not one partwork yet to arrive, retailers are concerned about the lack of revenue in these normally quiet months. 

The NFRN has also recognised this, but Marketforce, which claims 70% of the partwork business, said help is at hand. 

NFRN head of operations Brian Murphy told RN: “This is traditionally a time when partworks are launched in abundance and consumers are tempted by the large advertising budgets that accompany them to try something new, so it is disappointing.” He said the NFRN has raised its concerns and disappointment with the partwork publishers.

“While retailers’ reaction to partworks can probably best be described as that of people to Marmite, this dearth of partworks could undermine the excellent work undertaken by the pan-industry partwork group, which has significantly improved service short-comings, particularly in respect to due book management, while helping to reset the profit opportunity available from this important sector at the same time,” he added.

Hitesh Patel, of Gay’s Newsagents in Hertford, said: “Partworks always came after Christmas, which was great, as customers are often short of cash but would go for these. I’ve noticed less of
a pattern in recent years – you never know when they are coming.”

Marketforce group circulation director Rob Humphrey said: “I think it’s just a quirk. Some of the publishers have been a little quieter than usual, but it’s not a case of the sector going down. It’s cyclical.

“Hachette has a couple of big launches coming up and there’s plenty more to come, too.”

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