The newsagents federation (NFRN) has welcomed news that Camelot is reinstating a free retail hotline for retailers to use for day-to-day help and advice from Tuesday (June 5).

In autumn 2015 the national lottery operator enraged NFRN members by transferring its previously free retail hotline to an expensive 0844 number. No formal notice was given about the move before the new telephone number took effect from Friday October 8.

The NFRN raised members’ concerns directly with Camelot warning that the move would mean retailers would be paying more to use the hotline than they would earn in commission from selling lottery tickets and scratch cards. It described the move as “unwarranted and unfair”.

Today (Friday June 2) Camelot announced the launch of its AllStars support package for independent retailers, which along with the reinstatement of the free retail hotline number includes a £4m-plus investment in new and extra pos materials and signage and increased contact from its team for expert advice and support.

NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter said: “Through this new package of support, including the return of a new retail hotline to report service-related issues, Camelot is demonstrating that it recognises the vital role that independent retailers play in the success of the national lottery and the money it raises for good causes.

“The NFRN and its members welcome this vote of confidence in the independent sector and we look forward to working closely with Camelot to generate extra sales.”

Commenting on the Allstars package, Camelot’s head of retail, James Pearson, said: “Our retail partners play a huge role in helping us deliver over £30m every week for good causes, and in helping us create around eight million winners a week across our range of games. This new programme has been specifically developed to aid us in forging closer relationships with our network of 28,000 independents, and to enhance the range of support we provide to help them make the most of selling National Lottery products – and so add value to their businesses.

“In the months ahead, we’ll be looking to launch more initiatives to further underline our long-term commitment to our retail partners. All independents will be receiving a visit from one of our sales executives over the summer to talk through all of the details and, in the meantime, we hope that they can build on the benefits that being a National Lottery retailer brings.”