News retail groups have hit out at wholesaler Smiths News for increasing its carriage charge by 4.21%.

The decision has prompted the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) to renew its call for a full investigation into the news and magazine industry.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This latest hike will hit the bottom line of thousands of small shops across the country at a time when they cannot afford it. Unlike in any other part of their business retailers are not able to get product from elsewhere, and the competition authorities refuse to open up the market to give retailers choice.

“We have seen no evidence from Smiths that the extra 4.21% on retailer’s bills will lead to fewer late deliveries, better retailer support or extra benefits, and due to the territorial monopoly enjoyed by both Smiths and Menzies, retailers have no choice but to absorb the cost.”

National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) president Alan Smith said: “Rather than continuing to squeeze hard-pressed independent retailers for more money, wholesalers should be negotiating with publishers for an improved margin. If publishers want their products to be delivered they should be the ones that bear the cost.”

The ACS and NFRN are currently pursuing an appeal of the Office of Fair Trading’s decision in March not to conduct a full update review of the news and magazine distribution chain. ACS is also currently briefing MPs on how this latest charge increase will affect retailers in their constituency.