The writing has been on the wall for the traditional CTN for some time, according to the doom mongers: convenience is where it's at. So where does this leave the humble newsagent? For those who can adapt to the changing environment by embracing concepts such as convenience, the answer is: in a pretty good place. The country's two largest CTN operators, Martin McColl and Rippleglen, are both exploring the convenience route. But they are also both adamant that they won't be abandoning their CTN roots any time soon. Martin McColl has made a big push this year in its c-store business following the purchase of six Scottish Somerfield stores in April and the acquisition of the 90-strong Smile operation in August. This has taken the number of c-stores it owns to 360 but significantly it still has 711 smaller CTNs. The business will continue looking for c-store opportunities but will also investigate CTN acquisitions, says Paul Taylor, Martin McColl general manager, marketing. "We are certainly not abandoning CTNs," he says. "If newsagents come up and they are good stores we would definitely be interested." Rippleglen begins trialling its c-store operation in January but managing director Mike Colley says the CTN offer remains a vital part of the mix. "A well-run CTN with news deliveries, lottery, bill payments, bread and milk will prosper in the right location," says Colley. "Too many operators attempt to take on the multiples forgetting that this was why the corner shop disappeared in the first place." Historically, newsagents have been far too hasty in giving up their identity, he adds. "CTN products will generally produce the majority of profit from a c-store. There is an argument for a very limited range of grocery and alcohol, but a CTN's point of difference should be the news products." Martin McColl has a turnover of more than £1bn, so Rippleglen is some way behind with a turnover of £98.4m, but there is clearly still money to be made in the news trade.n