Newspaper and magazine retailers believe a proposed industry charter will not prevent wholesalers and publishers imposing unwanted allocations and high carriage charges.

The Press Distribution Forum, which includes the Association of News & Magazine Wholesalers, the Newspaper Publishers Association and the Periodical Publishers Association, says its charter has been put together with the help of retailers' representatives, but both the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) and the Association of News Retailing (ANR) say their views have been ignored.

ANR managing director John Lennon said the current system of allocations, where wholesalers 'box out' magazines on sale or return (SOR), was "inertia selling at its worst".

"Retailers need the ability to accept the allocation, if that's what they want, and not have it imposed on them. Wholesalers and magazine publishers have flatly refused this option."

Spar retailer Jillian Woods revealed the extent of the problem in a complaint to her wholesaler, Smiths News. "My return boxes are full with unwanted early returns because of your late notice," she said. "I've barely sold half a box of England football stickers and you send me more £150-worth of dead stock is not good business. Another example of greed is the £7.99 SFX special. I may sell one or two, but to increase to seven is ludicrous."

NFRN trade relations manager David Daniel added: "Will publishers and wholesalers negotiate a reasonable SOR limit and allow retailers who wish it to have full control over their supplies? Not a chance. And how about the abolition of carriage charges so retailers can get the margin from the publisher they are supposed to get?"

Both trade bodies are calling for a full market investigation by the Competition Commission.

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