Retailers have contacted The Grocer following the departure of Stefan Wojciechowski as NFRN head of newspapers and magazines two weeks ago, expressing concern that the 18,000-member federation was "not vocal enough", had failed to attend key meetings and that new national president Parminder Singh was too low-profile.
"I am very concerned that Stefan has left," said one newsagent. "There's no one left to look after us. It has definitely lost its way."
Another source added: "I believe retailers are very disenchanted."
Members have also expressed concern via the internet. West Sussex-based newsagent Steve Denham blogged that the NFRN "no longer has anyone that has credibility within the industry" and retailer Brian Webb posted the comment: "The NFRN have no one responsible at Yeoman House to represent the members with news and magazines."
However, NFRN general manager Paul Chambers insisted that the federation was in good shape. Wojciechowski's departure had been amicable and the NFRN was currently working on a restructure of its newspaper and magazine department, he claimed. "For the past 18 months to two years I have been the key contact for newspapers and magazines," he said. "Stefan's area of focus was the retailer account side. When we met with senior people in the industry, I was the main contact and this has been maintained."
The NFRN had attended all the key meetings in the industry, he added, and was also tackling other key areas affecting newstrade including crime and the tobacco display ban. Singh had been working hard on a number of initiatives and was chairman of the National Business Crime Forum, he said.
The only meetings the NFRN had not attended were for the Press Distribution Forum, which was just formed this week, he added.