The NFRN is to meet with senior executives from the Guardian to discuss face to face the newspaper publisher’s recent decision to cut retailer percentage terms.
The meeting, on October 7, comes hot on the heels of a campaign by the retail trade association following the Guardian’s price increase on its Monday to Friday copy from £1 to £1.20 on September 19 in which the publisher gave only a fractional increase in the retailers’ pence per copy terms.
At the same time it broke with the tradition of pro rata adjustments, reducing the percentage margin from 25% to 24%. In monetary terms, retailers now receive 1.2p per copy less than they would have done on pro rata terms, worth £750,000 per annum.
In protest, the NFRN wrote to the newspaper’s CEO Andrew Miller and Editor Alan Rusbridger asking them to think again while the two organisations worked in tandem on a range of commercial activities that would have obviated the need for a margin cut.
NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter also wrote to 27 of the Guardian’s main advertisers, advising them of the dispute and warning that as a result of the actions of individual retailers, their advertisements could fail to reach the consumer. Meanwhile, all members of the Board of the Scott Trust, received a letter from Mr Baxter pointing out that the Guardian’s actions seem hardly in keeping with their governing values of “honesty, cleanness, fairness, a sense of duty to the reader and the community”.
Commenting on the forthcoming meeting, NFRN National President Kieran McDonnell said: “I am disappointed with the response we have received to date from the Guardian and its supporters. Whilst I am not unsympathetic to the fact that their action has been driven by cost increases, how do they expect retailers to pay for their cost increases unless they maintain faith with pro rata terms?
“While the Guardian CEO Andrew Miller has indicated a willingness to work on commercial initiatives, he has refused to withdraw the margin reduction. I’m sorry, but in the real world that is how monopolist bullies behave, while genuine businessmen treat each other as equals. It will, therefore, be a ‘cold day in hell’ before I tell my members that we are working with a publisher to earn back money they have just had taken from them!”
And he added: “Our meeting on October 7 therefore promises to be an interesting one!”