Margins slashed on local papers

NEWSAGENT representative group the NFRN has reacted with dismay to the announcement from regional newspaper publisher Johnston Press that was slashing the retail margin on 25 of its Scottish titles to as little as 10%.

The publisher of such Scottish titles as the Cumbernauld News and Inverurie Herald – among many others – announced it would be raising the cover price of the papers from 26 June.
NFRN national president Linda Sood said she was “absolutely livid” at the move.

She said: “Johnston Press has displayed complete contempt for hard pressed and hardworking independent retailers who are responsible for such a large percentage of their regional newspaper sales.
“This move is a travesty, made even worse by the fact that there has been no prior consultation.”

NFRN head of news Brian Murphy said he was equally appalled and had called on Johnston Press’ group publishing director Richard Thomson to explain the publisher’s action.

Murphy said: “Raising the cover prices by as much as 20p while cutting the retailers’ margin to between 10% and 13% is misguided, unprecedented and downright disgraceful.

“We want some urgent answers from Mr Thomson, not least as to whether independent retailers are the only ones to see such vicious cuts to their margins or whether larger news retailers are having their trading terms hacked too.

“Particularly shocking is the fact that we have been given next to no notice of the changes. We therefore call on Johnston Press to postpone the price increases and margin cuts for a minimum of six weeks to enable retailers to decide whether they will accept these new terms or to refuse them, as is their right under their terms and conditions of supply.”

Publications affected include: Cumbernauld News, Kilsyth Chronicle, Deeside Piper, Berwickshire News, Midlothian Advertiser, Galloway Gazette, Ellon Times, Inverurie Herald, Mearns Leader, Arbroath Herald, Broughty Ferry Guide and Gazette, Glenrothes Gazette, Buchan Observer, Fraserburgh Herald, Selkirk Weekend Advertiser, Brechin Advertiser, Montrose Review, Forfar Dispatch, Kirriemuir Herald, The Buteman, Carrick Gazette, Milngavie & Bearsden Herald, Kirkintilloch Herald and Bishopbriggs Herald