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Newsagents slam regional publisher over pricing policy ‘outrage’

Jason BirkA regional publisher has been warned it risks “alienating retailers and readers” with a new pricing policy at some of its newspapers.

Newsagents’ trade body The Federation of Independent Retailers, also known as The Fed, has criticised Newsquest after a price increase at 20 of its titles across the North of England and North Wales.

According to The Fed, newsagents who stock the titles concerned have been advised that while the cover prices of both weekday and Saturday editions would rise with effect from this week, the pence per copy rate that retailers receive for selling the newspapers will remain the same.

Newspapers affected by the move include regional dailies the Bolton News, Bradford Telegraph & Argus, Lancashire Telegraph, Northern Echo, York Press and The Leader, which has two editions covering Flintshire and Wrexham.

The Fed’s national president Jason Birks has described the move as “an outrage”.

Mr Birks, pictured, said: “For retailers this represents a double whammy, with a cut in the percentage terms that retailers receive and no increase in the pence per copy.

“At a time of such austerity and when the news industry should be pulling together to protect the printed copy, these price increases and cuts to our percentage and pence per copy terms will alienate retailers and readers too.

“This is a very dangerous precedent to be setting and we would strongly urge the Newsquest management to think again.”

In a concurrent development, retailers will get a pro rata increase in their terms following cover price increases at the Carlisle News & Star and South Cumbria daily the Mail.

Mr Birks went on to criticise the letter from Newsquest’s Robert Wood that “thanks retailers for their continued support and encourages them to contact the publisher for help with promotional activity, canvassing or for new point of sale material”.

He said: “The arrogance of Newsquest is astonishing. It is highly unlikely that having been treated like this that any retailer will be calling it to request POS items.

“It is inconceivable that Newsquest believes that it can give with one hand yet take with another.

“In such challenging operating conditions, news retailers need pro rata terms increases to simply stay still.

“I wonder if Newsquest’s American owner, Gannett, is aware of its actions and how it is shooting itself in the foot with both retailers and readers and if this is really how it wants to work with its supply chain partners.”

HTFP has approached Newsquest for a response to The Fed’s comments.

A full list of the affected titles’ new prices is as follows:

Bolton News – 90p
Bradford Telegraph & Argus Monday-Friday – 90p
Bradford Telegraph & Argus Saturday – £1.05
Bury Times – £1.35
Carlisle News & Star – 95p
Chester Standard – 75p
County Times Gazette – £1.40
Denbighshire Free Press – £1
Ellesmere Port Standard – 75p
Knutsford Guardian – 85p
Lancashire Telegraph – 85p
Montgomeryshire County Times – £1.40
North Wales Pioneer – 90p
Northern Echo Monday-Friday – £1.05
Northern Echo Saturday – £1.55
Northwich Guardian – £1.30
Oswestry & Border Counties Advertizer – £1.10
Rhyl Journal – £1.10
The Leader – 90p
The Mail Monday-Friday – 95p
The Mail Saturday – £1.15
Warrington Guardian – £1.40
Whitchurch Herald – £1
Wirral Globe – 90p
York Press Monday-Fri – 90p
York Press Saturday – £1.05