The tripartite news wholesaling monopoly that has carved up the country into their preferred patchwork has generally meant that retailers have only one choice of wholesaler supplying the news.
Awaneesh Shukla, who runs DCL Convenience Store in London's Burnt Oak/Edgware area, cannot understand why his news has been delivered for the past decade by two wholesalers. He gets The Times, Telegraph and Independent, plus magazines, from Dawsons News, and gets the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star and Daily Sport and their weekend versions from Smiths News.
"It costs me nearly £22 in carriage charges for Smiths and I make only £5-£8 a week profit," he says. "It would make sense to buy all my supplies from Dawsons, but they won't do it. The NFRN says that's just the way they have carved up the area."
I spoke to Smiths, which acknowledges that there are some parts (very few) where contracts based on postcodes mean that some retailers get supplies from two, even three suppliers. "It would be more profitable for the wholesaler and retailer if only one supplier was involved," pointed out Lloyd Purchase, retail channel manager.