The NFRN has called for publishers and wholesalers to reassess their contingency plans, after newsagents up and down the country suffered more late deliveries on Saturday (27 November).
The trade body says that despite early warnings of bad weather and the well-publicised shortage of drivers, news publishers still printed at the same time as usual, causing widespread delays of deliveries, while a number of newsagents received no deliveries at all.
The NFRN’s contact centre was inundated with complaints from members who were unable to get through to wholesalers’ helplines, with a 112% increase in calls compared to a normal Saturday.
NFRN National President, Narinder Randhawa, said: “We realise there were underlying issues this weekend in terms of the adverse weather and driver shortages, but everyone knew it was coming, it’s not like it was a surprise. Why couldn’t the publishers have earlier cut-offs when they knew the weather was going to be bad?
“Communication from publishers and wholesalers is falling down all the time. If people are told what the situation is, they will bear with you, but our members were waiting 20 to 30 minutes to get through to helplines and when they did no-one seemed to know what was going on.”
The NFRN’s head of news and Connect, Brian Murphy, added: “The contingency plans that are currently in place aren’t robust enough and need to be reviewed by publishers and wholesalers to ensure business continuity. Late deliveries are bad enough, but to not send any papers at all in some cases is completely unforgivable.
“We respect the need for safety first, but with driver shortages remaining, more bad weather on the way and new strands of Covid evident, publishers must print earlier to prevent a repeat of the events of this weekend.”