Smiths News to increase carriage charge

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Smiths News has announced an increase to its carriage charges from 30 August.

The leading newspaper and magazine distributor will raise the charges by 3.02 per cent.

The move, however, has drawn swift condemnation from the NFRN.

“I am absolutely appalled that Smiths News should decide to ratchet up its carriage charges, especially at a time when Covid-19 forced the closure of many small stores and left many other of its retail customers struggling financially,” said Stuart Reddish, national president of the federation.

Reddish said the increase of an average 97p will mean an additional cost £50 a year for retailers.

He also slammed the distributor for not consulting with the federation despite a promise three years ago.

“I believed that the NFRN and Smiths News had a strong working relationship; one that included assurances that we would be consulted on carriage charge issues. How wrong could I be, as the NFRN has not been consulted ahead of [the] announcement,” he said.

The NFRN secured an assurance that it would be consulted ahead of any future carriage charge increases after protesting outside Smiths News’ Swindon head office in 2017.

Reddish added that the move, coming on the heels of margin cuts from publishers, could even force store closures.

“Coupled with recent margin cuts – from both national and regional newspaper publishers – this increase can only result in the closure of some shops, while in others retailers will drop the news category completely in favour of products that offer enhanced margins and far less hassle,” he said.

Publishers News UK, Reach and Newsquest have all recently announced cuts to retailer margins.