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Members of the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) in Northern Ireland are outraged by wholesaler Newspread’s decision to increase its delivery charges.

Newsagents across the province say they are concerned about the future of printed news and some will consider delisting titles delivered by the wholesaler.

The Fed’s Northern Ireland president Julie Brown, who owns Livingstones Newsagents, in Comber, said: “We would like to see a review of the charges. They are crippling businesses and leave us with very small profit margins.

“Between Newspread and Menzies we are paying over £150 a week for deliveries, and I don’t know where we go from here.”

Fed member Eugene Diamond, owner of Diamonds, in Ballymena, said: “It’s ridiculous. You are being charged for being a successful newsagent. People just can’t afford to pay these carriage charges anymore. It’s going to be a trade where nobody is in it apart from the supermarkets.”

Judith Mercer, of Hamilton News, in Cregagh Road, Belfast, added: “The template that Newspread uses for carriage charges is criminal. I think this is just one of the final nails in the coffin for some retailers.

“A lot of our members are actually working for below the minimum wage, and it’s not going to be worth their while to sell newspapers.”

One of the main bones of contention for retailers is they must pay two lots of charges to wholesalers Newspread and Menzies.

The Fed’s news and operations director Brian Murphy said: “Like News UK and DTR in England, the Irish wholesalers need to work on a solution that removes the need for dual carriage charges or they run the risk of more retailers exiting the market and both losing out.

“A volume-based template, rather than the current value based one, is clearly needed, as small stores subsiding larger ones is unfair.

“We are very disappointed that, once again, retailers have not been consulted, and this slam dunk approach continues to leave a sour taste.

“Publishers and wholesalers have to accept that retailers have choices, and this remains the only category in-store that operates in such a poor way.”

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