Distribution firms under fire over newspaper charges

REPRESENTATIVES for shopkeepers have accused Newspread and Eason of behaving like “corporate thugs” over new charges and conditions imposed on newsagents and retailers selling their products.

The Retail, Grocery, Dairy and Allied Trade Association (RGDATA) is unhappy the shops it represents have been told they will have to put boxes in front of their premises into which Newspread and Eason staff can collect and drop off magazines and newspapers during anti-social hours.

It is also unhappy the distribution companies continue to send out promotional boxes of products to shops that they have not ordered and still expect them to be paid for if not returned.

RGDATA director general Tara Buckley said the reaction from retailers was unprecedented and many have spoken of getting out of the sale of newspapers simply because of the hassle involved.

“Easons and Newspread are behaving like corporate thugs. For years they have added to retailers’ costs by dumping unordered copies of publications on them. They have also proved extremely unresponsive to retailers who have been seeking credits for unsold copies of publications. It is a real case of a sector where the customers have no competitive choice and which is crying out for regulation,” she said.

“Now Eason and Newspread are proposing to increase the cost of the collection and delivery service that they provide to retailers, while imposing a cumbersome and impractical basis for collecting unsold copies and giving retailer’s credits. These companies are doing their utmost to make selling newspapers and magazines an unattractive proposition for shop owners.”

She said RGDATA has already lodged a complaint with the Competition Authority on the activities of both Newspread and Easons and was preparing further information that it intended to submit.

However, while Newspread refused to comment on the situation, Andrew Walmsley of Eason said: “The Department of the Environment has been pressing newspaper and magazine supply chain to resolve the issue of trade waste.

“The changes in the method of collecting unsold newspapers and magazines in the Republic of Ireland will be very similar to best practice in Northern Ireland and Britain,” he added.

“We are encouraging retailers to move to full copy collection and no credit has been refused to a retailer due to these changes. We appreciate that full copy collection [will lead to] some changes to the retailers operation but we believe it will reduce the labour involved in stripping heading and removing magazine covers. It is a better and more efficient system we are offering the retailer.”

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