Newsagents have reacted angrily to plans by Smiths News to hike its carriage charges by almost 8%, accusing the wholesaler of “plundering” retailers following its second major increase this year. Smiths blamed fuel costs for the increase, which follows a 3.65% rise in January.

“Why do monopoly wholesalers automatically turn to their captive retail customers rather than go to the publishers, who not only control cover prices but margins across the industry too,” said National Federation of Retail Newsagents president Naresh Purohit.

Smiths chief executive Mark Cashmore said retailers would pay an extra £4 per week at most. “Our previous formula for determining the level of increase needed updating as vehicle running costs have become a greater percentage of overall distribution costs,” he said.