Smiths News suspends carriage charge review

Smiths News

Newspaper and magazine wholesaler Smiths News said they will by suspend any review of its carriage charges for 12 months in consideration of the impact of pandemic on retailers.

“We are incredibly mindful of the efforts our customers have gone to during the pandemic to ensure newspapers and magazines were available for their customers. Many are still under considerable pressure with lockdown,” said Jonathan Bunting, Smiths News chief executive.

“In speaking to the NFRN and others in the industry I am regularly reminded that many have gone above and beyond for their communities in the last year. In making this announcement we are hopeful that the NFRN and all our customers will see this as a positive move that provides some support to newspaper and magazine retailing after such a difficult period.”

It is only the second time that the news wholesaler has taken such action, after it gave its retail customers the option of freezing their carriage charges for two years in 2015.

The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has welcomed the announcement.

“For some time, I have been discussing the financial difficulties that members have suffered from the coronavirus pandemic with Smiths News CEO Jon Bunting and it is clear that the news wholesaler has not only listened to our concerns, but is now acting on them, by suspending any review of the charges for at least a year,” Stuart Reddish, NFRN national president, said.

“We are delighted that Smiths News is displaying such strong support for its retail customers during times of such hardship.”

Under the present carriage charge structure, Smiths News customers pay a minimum of £36.22 for a weekly supply of newspapers and magazines, and the maximum charge is £61.45. As the previous carriage charge reviews have resulted in average increases of up to 3 per cent, the decision could help some customers to save as much as £96 this year on their news bill.

Reddish said the NFRN will be calling on Menzies Distribution to follow suit. Earlier this year, News UK DTR (Direct to Retail) advised that it was deferring its review of carriage charges until March.