May ABC figures

Newspapers are still a key reason for customers to visit our stores and, having come into its own during the pandemic, home news delivery (HND) is a major service requested by thousands of readers.

So, two months ago, I was pleased and eager to take part in my first-ever newspaper summit, where Fed members, together with newspaper publishers and news wholesalers, discussed ways of working together, with sales opportunities identified around retail subscriptions and HND.

Fast forward to today and you can imagine our dismay when two newspaper giants announced they were increasing cover prices on large numbers of their national and regional newspapers, with cuts to our percentage margin.

Of course, we understand that Reach and News UK are operating in tough times, but Fed members are facing considerable financial pressures, too.

Time and again, we explain to the decisionmakers of the news industry the impact that cutting percentage margins has on independent retailers.

We need pro-rata terms just to stand still. Yet on some Reach regional titles, the percentage margin that retailers will receive is now as low as 16.5%.

I have said it before and will say it again: cover price increases and margin cuts will only cause more people to exit the news category when they evaluate the net percentage margin and volume sold against the space it is given.

Publishers must sit up and listen as any further failures to treat retailers fairly could put the industry at risk of becoming little other than yesterday’s news.

This is my last column for betterRetailing as I will be handing over the national president’s chain to my successor at Annual Conference later this month. Thank you all for reading my words. My best wishes to you all.

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