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Independent retailers served by Menzies Distribution have reacted with dismay after learning that the news wholesaler is increasing its carriage charge by 3.5 per cent from April.

The rise is due to take effect from Monday April 4, just three days after the mandatory national living wage for employers aged 23 and over increases by a whopping 6.6 per cent and amid soaring utility bills.

Commenting, The Fed’s National President Narinder Randhawa said: “This is a bitter blow for Menzies Distribution’s retail customers as it comes at a time when our costs are spiralling out of control.

“Where are retailers supposed to find the cash to fund this increase? Wholesalers should be going to the publishers who not only control cover prices but the margins across the industry too,” he added.

Mr Randhawa warned that this latest increase could push more independent retailers into dropping the news category completely in favour of products that offer enhanced margins and that demand less time and effort being spent on them.

Alternatively, others could take control of the price and margin, by covering the rrp on the front pages of both newspapers and magazines and setting their own cover price.

Mr Randhawa continued: “Quite rightly, all wholesalers decided to freeze their charges during the pandemic in recognition of the torrid time that retailers were facing. Sadly, very little has changed, and many members continue to struggle financially. Menzies Distribution’s management also has to recognise that it is impossible for retailers to pass these extra costs onto their customers.

“What is particularly disappointing, is that the charge was announced just days after the Fed’s positive and successful summit, which was attended by both news wholesalers and national newspaper representatives.

“During the summit, all parties were reminded that retailers have seen no increases in payments for inserting supplements or handling vouchers for many years. Having listened to our concerns about these paltry payments, it is baffling that just a few days later we are told that the carriage charge is going up. There is no justification, especially as Menzies is failing to provide all members with a high level of service.”

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