Q Given the sharp decline in newspaper sales, is it still worth indie shopkeepers selling them?

Jonty Edwards: While it’s true that the younger demographic is leading the way in terms of accessing news content via pixels rather than print, there remains a healthy demand for printed daily newspapers. Newspapers continue to be a key footfall driver within the c-store environment.

Colin Fletcher: Newspapers still represent annual sales of £2.4bn. What’s more, the independent sector accounts for over 50% of the total market. The opportunity presents itself not only in casual counter sales but in home news delivery, providing guaranteed sales to both retailer and publisher. The NFRN’s new Store2Door initiative provides members with resource and branding for this important lucrative market.

David Cooke: Sales are currently down in volume, but when you look at the figures for the top-performing independents and c-stores, they are in growth. Those who are willing to invest time and innovate can still reap the rewards. Menzies Distribution customers have returns collected and credited daily, so there is never any money tied up in stock.

Meet this month’s masters

Jonty Edwards is sales director at Rascal Systems. He’s responsible for new business development and ensuring service delivery excellence to retail partners.

David Cooke is commercial and marketing director at Menzies Distribution. He handles customer service, retail and publisher-facing account management and product allocation.

Colin Fletcher is the new NFRN national president. He runs Andersons News in Chandlers Ford. Until June he was chairman of the NFRN news operations committee.

Q How can c-store owners maximise the sales opportunity?

: Independent retailers are uniquely placed to develop a good understanding of local tastes and preferences. Once the right range for the local community has been identified, maintaining range discipline and ensuring the fixture does not get cluttered are really important. Retailers can also maximise sales through the promotional opportunities available via the magazine promo clubs, ensuring PoS is clearly displayed and giving extra focus and space to any launches.

Fletcher: Simply by having the right product, in the right place, at the right time. You also need to ensure you have attractive displays, together with effective systems to check availability and replenishment. Block displays and planograms are a necessity. You need to have maximum availability of key selling titles at key selling periods.

Cooke: Our customers can easily manage their allocations through our online account management system, i-Menzies, which is also available as an app, meaning retailers can manage accounts from the shop floor. We also suggest retailers offer ‘shop-save’, where issues of a magazine are kept for a specific customer to encourage loyalty. Newspaper and magazine top-sellers displayed on the counter encourage impulse sales.

Q What advice would you give to retailers worried about stocking lads’ magazines and adult titles?

Fletcher: The content of magazines is the responsibility of the publishers, which operate to a code of practice policed by their appointed wholesalers. Our code of practice explains how to display these titles to minimise complaints without affecting sales.

Edwards: Retailers need to make their decisions based on buyer behaviour and customer feedback. These titles are typically high revenue, so if local demand happens to be strong they can make a margin contribution. ACS guidance is to partly cover any potentially offensive images with other magazines or use modesty boards to hide covers.

Cooke: The magazines referred to are published entirely responsibly and within the law. Despite recent news reports, feedback from customers demonstrates this has not been a big issue so far. That said, publishers have created modesty boards for the likes of Zoo and Nuts, which sit at the front of the display to prevent any possible offence.