Smiths News has defended its decision to increase carriage charges by an average of 2.57%.

The increase, which comes into force on 5 August, follows a 4.8% hike last summer.

The newspaper and magazine wholesaler said the move was due to cost rises over the year.

“We are always mindful of the impact on our customers and have limited the charges accordingly,” said Smiths News MD Jonathan Bunting.

“The percentage rise means the average weekly increase for retailers will be 98p, while more than 3,400 customers will receive a reduction in their weekly charges. We remain committed to investing in and improving our service offer to all our customers.”

But the National Federation of Retail Newsagents was left seething over the decision. New national president Alan Smith said that as a result of the hike, over 60% of NFRN members would have to pay more than £1 extra a week, 26% would pay just under £1 extra and a mere 14% would see their charges stay the same or decrease.

“Rather than continuing to squeeze hard-pressed independent retailers for more money, wholesalers should be negotiating with publishers for an improved margin,” Smith said.

ACS CEO James Lowman added: “We have seen no evidence that this will lead to fewer late deliveries, better retailer support or extra benefits, and due to the territorial monopoly enjoyed by both Smiths and Menzies, retailers have no choice but to absorb the cost.”