Newsagents have condemned Smiths News’ decision to increase carriage charges for its retailers by nearly 5% from August.

Smiths News has advised its retail customers that carriage charges are to rise by 4.86% from 7 August 2011. The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) said the decision epitomised “the unacceptable face of monopoly”.

NFRN president Kieran McDonnell said: “In an industry where sales are in long-term decline the only way the industry can earn extra revenue to meet increasing costs is if publishers (who have control over prices) charge a viable prices for their publications that generates sufficient revenue to cover costs involved in getting their products to the market.

“So why are Smiths News putting up their carriage charges rather than re-negotiating an improved margin from the publishers? The answer is simple - ‘because they can’ - knowing that retail customers have no choice to bow to this ‘extortion’ or face losing their supply altogether.”

McDonnell called for an alternative way of funding wholesalers rather than putting an increasing number of independent newsagents out of business.