Small retailers have slammed Menzies Distribution for imposing a new surcharge for delivering titles previously handled by News International’s direct-to-retail operation.

The publisher of The Sun revealed in August this year that is was handing its direct-to-retail delivery operation outside London to Menzies and Smiths News.

Menzies has since introduced an £8.50 flat rate weekly charge that both the ACS and NFRN said they had expected to be removed now newspapers were being delivered by Menzies.

“This surcharge is a perfect illustration of why this market is broken,” said James Lowman of the Association of Convenience Stores.

“Menzies has introduced, with no consultation, a surcharge that breaks their own template for calculating carriage service charges.

“Wholesalers can arbitrarily increase prices to boost their own profitability at the expense of retailers. Every shop would have to sell an additional 90 copies of The Sun to cover this cost. This is quite simply an abuse of hard working retailers by a monopoly supplier.”

National Federation of Retail Newsagents president Alan Smith added: “Yet again, such action by Menzies reinforces our long-term belief that the two remaining wholesalers are being allowed to bid for and win contacts well below cost, with independent retailers having to pay the price.

“At worst, Menzies should be merely adding the value of NI titles that it supplies to retailers’existing weekly accounts and re-calculating the carriage charge appropriately. Adding a new flat-rate charge for NI titles makes a mockery of what is already a wholly discredited and unjustified monopoly rent that is imposed on retailers.”