Independent news retailers who are responsible for 60% of newspaper sales have welcomed an investigation into the future of the newspaper marketplace announced by Prime Minister Theresa May, but say such action is long overdue.

Linda Sood, the national president of the NFRN which represents 15,000 independent retailers in the UK and Ireland, said: “National and local newspapers play a crucial role in society and are the bread and butter for many independent newsagents, but we have long expressed concerns about declining sales, the demise of quality journalism and, ultimately, the quality of the publications.

“A diverse and plural press is critical to local communities and newspaper stockists alike so we welcome the investigation and hope that news retailers can play a full part within it.”

NFRN head of news Brian Murphy said he believed the probe should be extended to encompass the whole of the news supply chain.

“It’s not just a question of looking into the quality of journalism or the effect of their online rivals. This investigation should be widened to include cover pricing, declining retailer margins and the increasing costs associated with receiving supplies, as well as the physical distribution. If it is to be successful it must ensure that the current grievances of all parties are represented and addressed. Only that way can the future of both national and regional newspapers be assured on newsstands throughout the UK and consumers can enjoy real choice regarding what they read, where they buy it from and the price they pay.

“A full investigation will also secure the future of the home delivered copy – which is a lifeline for the elderly and infirm,” he added.

“The NFRN would be more than happy to take one of the seats on the review panel so all our members’ concerns can be raised and addressed.”