Retailers have finally lost patience with years of poor service from news wholesalers and are planning to set up a rival magazine distribution system, said John Lennon, news co-ordinator for the Association of Convenience Stores.
As the Periodical Publishers Association unveiled a New Deal for Retailers, Lennon angrily dismissed the initiative as irrelevant and revealed that the ACS was arranging talks with non-news wholesalers to see whether they could handle distribution of magazines.
Major delivered and C& C wholesalers belong to the ACS and Lennon said: “We will be talking to our members in the near future about providing an alternative route to market. We have already had a very positive response from one member.”
News wholesalers handle both newspapers and magazines and have always delivered to retailers, but Lennon said there was no reason why C& Cs could not play a part in a new supply chain solely for magazines.
“Retailers go to C&Cs for all their other products, so there is no reason why they could not collect magazines,” he said.
News wholesalers each operate a monopoly in a given territory, but the government plans to enact new competition rules next May which could outlaw such practices, and
Lennon said they would look to introduce a new system then.
However, the PPA, newspaper publishers and wholesalers have warned that if the monopoly system was outlawed, thousands of smaller retailers would be driven out of business because it would no longer be viable to deliver to smaller customers and outlying retailers. PPA chief executive Ian Locks said: “Thousands of independents must be saved from closure as a result of government changes.”
But Lennon said: “Thousands of retailers go out of business because they can’t rely on the service they receive. If we open up the market and get a better service a lot more will be saved.”
Publishers and wholesalers are trying to persuade the government to change its mind and allow the current monopoly to continue. They intend to introduce a number of improvements to the system, including the New Deal.
This would provide customers with an independent body to investigate complaints and award compensation, and an ombudsman.
John Wood