It means that the OFT’s key suggestion - for retailers to be allowed to approach any wholesaler to supply their magazines - could be quashed.
The Department of Trade and Industry has invited publishers to express concerns about the OFT’s conclusions, expected to be published within weeks. “Overwhelming national interests could lead the government to exempt or include parties from competition agreements,” said an OFT spokeswoman.
Industry debate has intensified after distributor Frontline consolidated supply contracts among larger wholesalers Dawson News, John Menzies and WH Smith News and dropped eight independents.
Many retailers believed the move could prompt increases in delivery rates. The Periodical Publishers’ Association fears worse delivery terms for smaller retailers and estimates that 12,000 could go out of business.