Spar UK managing director Debbie Robinson has called for cross-merchandising of newspapers with “dynamic” growth areas such as coffee and food to go in order to drive sales of the print news category.

Robinson was speaking at a recent News UK event, which aimed to highlight opportunities for a category widely perceived to be in decline.

“I’d like to see print have more affinity with growing, dynamic areas such as coffee, food to go, and breakfast products in particular. You could see real growth in print,” she said.

“Younger people are in there for food to go and coffee, but I can see cross-merchandising opportunities.” She also raised the prospect of linking social media and print as a way to boost newspaper sales.

News UK director of retail sale, Neil Spencer, said other products grew on average by 17% when placed next to news.

The company’s head of insights and analysis, Robert Stevenson, highlighted the value of newspapers, which were worth £1.8bn at retail.

He outlined the appeal of newspapers to older audiences, with the average age of print readers being 57, compared to the average age of 43 for digital news readers.

However, he said there was a “misconception” that people have moved from print to digital: 41% of newsprint readers also read content online.

The New Matters event heard that retailers can drive newspaper sales by focusing on range and display. Spar Renfrew in Scotland saw sales outperform the market by 6% after introduced new secondary newspaper sites at key impulse locations, in conjunction with News UK.