News International (NI)'s decision to reduce retailers' cash margin on The Sun by 1.6p per copy has been met with “revulsion and contempt” by newsagents who say the move will take over £10m a year out of retailers' tills.
In a strongly worded response, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents suggested its members might take individual action to promote rival titles to their customers. Retailers contacted by Convenience Store said they were prepared to sell The Sun at 1p above cover price to restore their margin.
News International announced this week that retailers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been receiving a share of cover price of the Monday to Friday editions based on the full price of 35p, although The Sun has sold on a temporary price promotion of 30p since July 2008.
“Having reviewed the success of this promotion, News International has no plans to revert to a 35p cover price and will apply standard terms from Monday 16 November,” the company said.
The NFRN accused NI of having “a knife poised to stab retailers in the back” and cancelled the publisher's sponsorship of its annual trade show, a partnership announced just days ago.
Head of News and Magazines Stefan Wojciechowski said: “How News International thinks that it is going to win the hearts and minds of independent retailers by treating them this way is beyond comprehension. In fact if they think retailers are just going to allow this to happen, and encourage other publishers to follow suit, then they may have miscalculated badly.”
While the NFRN is prevented by law from organising any collective retaliatory action, Wojciechowski added: 'There is nothing that we can do, nor would want to do, to stop individual retailers from reacting to protect their own businesses.
“News International is arrogant enough to believe that no retailer will seek to encourage customers to substitute their title with another. Retailers, however, may well think otherwise when they now compare the pence per copy margin they are receiving for selling the Sun in comparison to other titles. Who could blame them?”