Recent research by Harris International Marketing (Him) revealed that 16% of all customers said that buying a newspaper is the primary reason for visiting a store. And, according to the Him Convenience Tracking Programme 2007, additional purchases are then usually made in the confectionery, tobacco, lottery and soft drinks categories. Yet, for many forecourt operators, the news category is difficult to manage and therefore difficult to get the best profits from.

With this in mind, Palmer and Harvey (P&H) has launched its Plus News service to the convenience sector.

P&H describes it as a complete service to help reduce the complexities of trading in newspapers and magazines.

The main features it offers are:

Range management: a range that suits each individual store and reflects market trends, stopping unwanted and non-sellable products.

Planograms: easy-to-follow planograms tailored to each store format .

Promotions: four-weekly promotion cycles on titles that deliver strong incremental sales and exclusive cross-category promotions linked to confectionery and soft drinks.

Representing retailers at a national level: retailers get ongoing support with wholesale issues such as late deliveries. There is email and a phone helpline for advice for individual store issues.

P&H is also proud of the fact that the Plus News service is free. Once the company has confirmed a retailer’s membership they receive a specific Plus News welcome pack, including an in-depth operational manual.

One fan of Plus News is Park Garage Group (PGG), which is number three in the Forecourt Trader Top 50 Indies list for 2009. PGG operations director Miles Harvey says: "We’ve found Plus News extremely useful. I first heard about it at last year’s ProRetail show and we decided to try it out soon after. The planograms are great you can usually get planograms for just about every other category in the shop, but you very rarely get that kind of support in this category.

"There’s good category advice and help to create your own e-learning package for staff, and I think it also helps the team to understand the importance of the category and how they have to manage it. It’s something that’s not immediately obvious how to get the right titles in the right places and also on sale at the right time. It’s a slow process because obviously ours is a busy business, and sites can vary quite a lot."

Harvey says the amount of room dedicated to the category depends on each site. He adds: "The value of Plus News is that it educates people to manage the category properly, you have to realise that a newspaper or magazine has a shelf life, just like a yoghurt.

"All our 89 sites are now using Plus News and we’ve seen a great improvement. News is a very profitable category if you get it right, and it’s a great footfall driver."