Margin cut accompanies The Times price rise

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News UK has announced price changes for The Times and The Sunday Times from 6 July, but the increase is accompanied by a cut in retailer margin on weekday editions.

The retail margin for The Times Monday – Friday editions will reduce by 0.5 per cent to 21 per cent, bringing it in line with its weekend editions.

“We understand that any margin cuts are unwelcome however this price change will increase both revenue and profit for retailers,” News UK said in a letter to retailers.

The cover price will rise by 20p for The Times Monday – Friday editions to £2 and by the same amount for The Times Saturday to £2.20. The new cover price for Sunday Times will be £3, an increase of 10p.

The publisher said the combined price changes will result in an extra £24 million through retailers’ tills over the next 12 months, and an additional £4 million in retail margin.

Trade body NFRN, however, said the move is a “real blow” for retailers.

“Time and again, we try to explain to the decision makers in the newspaper industry how cuts such as these will impact on the lives of independent retailers. To just stand still we need pro rata terms,” commented Stuart Reddish, national president of NFRN.

“This move is a real blow, coming at a time when we have done everything possible – and when we have risked both our health and safety – to get newspapers into readers’ hands. To give on the one hand, by maintaining terms on weekend editions of The Times, but to take with the other, with another cut to our margin, is a real blow.”

News UK said it will continue its Home News Delivery promotion to drive guaranteed sale for retailers alongside the push for print subscriptions and in-store promotions. The publisher has invested over £1 million during the pandemic to support a 12 week free offer on HND, securing over 20,000 new orders.

“These price increases and small changes in margins are required to ensure we can continue to fund the agenda-setting journalism which ultimately drives the customer to purchase our titles,” a News UK spokesperson added.

“We thank retailers for everything they are doing in this period to support the news trade and their wider community and look forward to continuing to grow our HND offering with retailers and in-store sales as more people return to retail.”