Newsagents across the country are keeping sales strong by becoming the local hub for home news deliveries. Here, RN speaks to two retailers to find out how they are offering a great service in a difficult trading environment

David Woodrow
Woodrow’s, Bishopton, Scotland

Why should retailers invest in home news delivery (HND)?

It’s a way of accessing a wider community and maintaining a newspaper readership. 

HND relies on reliable
delivery of newpapers
to agents

What have you done in the past year that has increased sales?

The biggest thing we have done is maintained our service. If you make mistakes, you will start to lose customers. If you don’t have a good service, or follow up if there are a mistakes, then you are not going to retain customers. 

At the same time, it’s a guaranteed sale, so it’s a constant balancing act to ensure you get it right. It will be difficult if you experience an unreliable delivery of papers, because if that becomes a regular occurrence, you just can’t do HND. 

It needs publishers and wholesalers to help you to get the product to you on time, because you have a very narrow window to get them out.  

Have you taken on more customers in the past year?

It’s been fairly static in spite of 1,500 new homes being developed locally. It’s very difficult to try to attain these people as new HND customers when they will have access to great digital services in their newly built homes. We have a few customers in the new estate, but they tend to be the older people who have moved there from the village. 

How do you run your operation? 

We have always done sub-retailing; we sub-retail to four outlets in the area. We home deliver to up to 400 people, which is substantial enough for us. We use a van to deliver the papers once they have been dropped off to us in the morning. 

What are the challenges and how do you overcome them?

I think the ease of digital access to news outlets is our biggest challenge. It would be difficult for someone to start doing HND from scratch. It’s all about getting the right papers to the right people. 

Mike Rowe
Rowes Newsmarket, Wantage, Oxfordshire

Why should retailers invest in home news delivery?

A lot of people say print is dying, but I think it’s got a few years left in it yet. We’ve majored on that because we’ve got a couple of very large, upmarket residential homes in our area, so we deliver there en masse.

HND supports the rest of the shop, and people come in to pay their newspaper bills. 

As well as revenue from paper 
sales, HND is a good way to
get customers into shops

What have you done in the past year that has increased your sales?

It’s quite a monopoly, as fewer and fewer people want to do it. We’ve taken over two or three fairly big roundsmen in the past seven or eight years and incorporated them into our business. 

It’s become a substantial part of the business, but all these things help to make a thriving store.

Have you taken on more customers in the past year?

We deliver to more than 1,500 houses every day, in an approximately 20-mile radius. If you go out and canvass, it’s surprising how many new customers you can get. 

The younger generation are less interested. If a new estate is built, for example, you’ll be lucky to get very many customers there. 

We focus on villages where there are more retired people living. They’re the people who tend to want their newspapers delivered.

How do you run your operation? 

It takes some organising logistically in the mornings. We have seven vans that go out delivering newspapers, along with a whole host of deliverers. 

We’ve done it for years. Forty years ago, my parents’ business was based on deliveries. They had it all running from their small, 300sq ft newsagents. 

When they retired, my wife and I took it over; we moved into this nearly-3,000sq ft store and carried on with the deliveries.

What are the challenges and how do you overcome them?

I don’t, I’ve got a manager who does that now, but I did for many years. I would imagine it probably takes up about 20 hours a week of his time. 

As an example of the logistical headaches we get, at Easter, we had 21 deliverers all off on the same week, so we had to cover all of that with other people. It’s a big job, but we’re experienced and know how to do it.