The Association of News Retailing (ANR) has urged its members to prepare for a magazine market with only three remaining wholesalers after WHS News won the Frontline distribution contract.

The loss of the deal, which covers BBC, Emap, Haymarket and Bauer magazines, is worth 30% of the market and means a consortium of WH Smith, Menzies and Dawson will now handle distribution.

Independent retailers could face increasingly harsh terms for magazine delivery as a result, and the ANR warned it could reduce choice of terms.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is currently examining the wholesale system - which operates through a series of regional monopolies - and a decision on its future was due as C-Store went to press.

However, ANR managing director John Lennon said the news about Frontline did not make the OFT’s report any less relevant. “The fact that magazines are distributed through three wholesalers has a detrimental effect - the market is too narrow and inflexible,” he said.

The ANR advised retailers to invest in IT that allows them to control their newspaper and magazine category, whichever wholesaler they deal with.

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