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MP backs independent newsagent’s ‘Press for Reform’ call

16th November 2011
MP backs independent newsagent’s ‘Press for Reform’ call

Gordon Henderson MP has written to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP; Chief Executive of the Office of Fair Trading; has signed an Early Day Motion in support of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents ‘Press for Reform’ campaign.

A petition, signed by 20,000 customers of independent newsagents and convenience stores across the UK over the course of three weeks (spanning 828 pages and covering 452 constituencies) was delivered to 10 Downing Street by more than 100 retailers from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The petition calls for the OFT to refer the newspaper and magazine industry to the Competition Commission for a full market investigation.

Retailers, and their loyal customers, believe that the very existence of independent news retailers is threatened by the monopoly of the two remaining wholesale distributors and a few powerful publishers who control the supply and retail selling prices.

This means that small retailers face arbitrary delivery charge hikes; alongside simultaneous margin cuts; and frequent poor service which adversely affects customer choice of when and where they can buy products.

Currently, the industry has no effective regulation and the campaign calls for this to be investigated by the Competition Commission.

Mr Henderson said:

“Our small independent newsagents are an important part of our community and I am delighted to back the ‘Press for Reform’ campaign.”

President of the NFRN, Kieran McDonnell, said:

“I sincerely thank Mr Henderson for his backing of our members and the communities which he supports. It is a sad fact that 11.5% of all independent retail newsagents have shut up shop in the last 5 years, and such fundamentally restrictive market conditions have undoubtedly contributed to that. Retailers and their customers simply asking for fair trading conditions under which to conduct business in order to survive”.

Karen Bradley MP, who formally delivered the 10 Downing Street petition, said:

“In considering whether to make the recommendation for a referral, I should think the OFT would find it hard to ignore this overwhelming support from consumers: the business case and consumer support are clearly there to make the referral”.

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