The National Federation of Retail Newsagents is piling pressure on newstrade wholesalers to reduce carriage charges in the wake of falling fuel prices - and has warned it could take its concerns to the Competition and Markets Authority.
The trade body has written to the MDs of Smiths News, Menzies Distribution, News UK DTR, Newspread and EM News demanding that savings made due to the drop in fuel prices should be passed on to retailers through a reduction in carriage charges. It follows a similar call by the NFRN in January.
The letter, from NFRN CEO Paul Baxter, states it had been made aware contract drivers employed by the wholesalers had been asked to take pay cuts as a result of the drop in fuel prices. He also warned a “not insignificant number” of independent retailers were failing to break even when selling newspapers and magazines.
National president Martyn Brown added: “Every year the charges go up, with the wholesalers citing increased costs. Well, this time with petrol and diesel prices so low there is no reason why they can’t [reduce] their charges, and if they don’t we shall be taking our concerns to the new Competition and Markets Authority.”
Wholesalers would not reveal whether they planned to lower their charges. Menzies Distribution and EM News said they reviewed carriage charges “periodically every year and will be sticking to the normal schedule this year - the next review based on our schedule will be in late 2015.”
A spokesman for News UK added: “News UK is committed to supporting and growing the businesses of independent retailers. That’s why we continually strive to keep our overall net costs to a minimum when individual variable costs can fluctuate. Strict management of our costs and efficiencies ensures we can always keep our daily delivery charge to a minimum so that our world-class newspapers are read throughout the UK.”