Menzies Distribution has increased its UK average carriage charge by 3.5% to compensate for increased labour costs caused by forthcoming National Living Wage rises.
The increases take effect from 4 April. In Northern Ireland, retailers will see their charges rise by an average 2%. In the Republic of Ireland, the increase is 2.5%.
In a letter to newsagents, Menzies boss Greg Michael said the company was “committed to the long-term sustainability of newstrade”, adding that it was working with retailers, distributors and publishers to implement efficiency measures that drive out costs where possible with a view to enabling us to “support the long-term health of our shared supply chain”.
Michael said the 6.2% increase in the national living wage from 1 April was the trigger for Menzies reviewing its carriage charge template.
The Federation of Independent Retailers condemned the increase. NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said the rises and the reasons behind them were “deeply disappointing”.
He added: “Does Menzies not realise that news retailers are also facing rising labour bills from April 1? But unlike Menzies, our members do not have the opportunity to pass these onto their customers in the form of increased prices.
“Mr Michael says he and his company are committed to the long-term survival of the news industry but these increases will cost jobs, will cost livelihoods and, most important of all, could deprive communities of their only shop. It seems that Menzies has no true understanding of the plight of independent retailers.
“Three quarters of NFRN members served by Menzies will see their carriage charge bills rise come April yet there is no indication of any improvements to service levels or any new measures that will make it easier for the news wholesaler and retailer to do business together.”
Michael will meet with the NFRN on 24 February.