Furious independent retailers in Northern Ireland have accused news wholesaler Newspread of increasing carriage charges ‘by stealth’.
The rises, which average 3.5 per cent, came into effect on Sunday (June 6) but there was no official or advance notification. Retailers only became aware if they spotted the news in small print on their invoices.
The vice president of the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) Muntazir Dipoti, who is also chairman of its news operations committee, said:
Given that other news wholesalers have suspended their annual carriage charge reviews given the difficult trading conditions that all retailers have experienced over the past 18 months, the fact that Newspread has not only conducted a review but also increased its charges is a real blow. What makes matters worse is that many news retailers were completely unaware as the news was hidden away at the bottom of its paperwork. This is a real blow.
Newspread only confirmed its carriage charge hikes to the NFRN’s head office after the event. In an email, its operations director Grace McPhail said that the increases took effect from last weekend, adding that 100 retailers had seen their carriage charges rise. She added that 300 retailers had moved to a lower band because of their weakened trading conditions.
The NFRN has asked Newspread to confirm its intentions for its retail customers in the Republic of Ireland. To date, it will only advise that these are under review.