Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Nic & Rocco reissue of damaged stock by Bauer wastes newsagent time and money

Mark Fletcher on October 30, 2014 3:32 PM

magssweetsensatAlmost a year ago, Bauer Media issued Nic & Rocco Sweet Sensations. I blogged about it at the time. Today, they sent it out again. This time it’s stock that has been around the block. Many copies are damaged.

What a waste of time and money! What an appalling and unfair treatment of newsagents. I consider it to be unethical.

There should be no reissue of any title without newsagent permission. Bauer demands we pay them on time yet they do not provide reasonable levers with which to control our level of indebtedness.

Shame on those at Bauer who facilitated this abuse of newsagents.

I’m early returning Nic & Rocco Sweet Sensations.


→ 5 CommentsCategory: Ethics · magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · Ugh!

Everything you do can be reviewed

Mark Fletcher on October 30, 2014 9:46 AM

Every so often newsagents should do a search to check for online reviews of their business. Given the ease with which anonymous reviews can be left at a range of online sites, offering the best possible customer experience every time is more important than ever.

Check out two reviews at Yelp of a newsagency in Sydney. And check out this revue for another newsagency in Sydney.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing

Which is the better accounting solution for your newsagency: MYOB or Xero?

Mark Fletcher on October 30, 2014 6:03 AM

I’m often asked to recommend an accounting system for newsagents to use. Today, my recommendation is Xero. It’s easier to use and offers easier connectivity to your newsagency software – saving time, cutting mistakes and providing a more easily attainable whole of business view.

I have experience with MYOB, Quick Books and Xero and it’s the Xero experience I like the most.

In two of my stores we are fully integrated with Xero from the sales counter. Xero receives sales data, cost of sales and other information – eliminating bookkeeping time and enabling us to produce an accurate P&L a day or two after the end of the month. This helps is with business planning and in-store business decisions.

Connecting Xero directly from the newsagency software without the need for middleware is useful and cost saving. This is an area where MYOB has proved to be frustrating over the years.

If you use neither and rely on your accountant to produce a P&L six monthly or annual your business decisions will suffer from lack of information. A monthly P&L is vital in today’s competitive situation.

Click here to read advice from an Accountancy practice comparing MYOB and Xero. Click here for a comparison published at DigitalFirst. As with any business decision don’t rely on my advice – do your own homework. Google searches can produce a range of comparisons.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Checking out gift suppliers for newsagencies

Mark Fletcher on October 30, 2014 5:54 AM

giftsI am grateful for the time given by gift suppliers in Adelaide and Perth yesterday where I got to see some exciting new products and existing products presented in a new way.

There is no better way to buy gifts than as when they are presented in a best-practice way when you can see a full range story as you would want it in your own shop.

While it’s terrific to meet with reps in-store, being face to face with products in a showroom is more useful. It works better for the supplier with more orders too.

The last two days are a reminder of the value of being outside the business working on it.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Gifts

I don’t want Inside Out

Mark Fletcher on October 30, 2014 5:51 AM

ioutWith the arrangement between News Life Media and Coles which sees Inside Out magazine priced at $2.00 less in Coles than my newsagency and with two Coles curer markets in my centre I see no point in carrying this title and promoting my business as being more expensive. More important, I need to make a stand to the publisher who disrespected our channel with their Coles deal.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Ethics · magazine distribution · magazines

Leadership change at Bauer

Mark Fletcher on October 29, 2014 5:51 PM

Bauer Media today announced that Australian CEO Matt Stanton is to leave the business for Woolworths and that David Goodchild from Bauer in the UK will take on responsibility for Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Mumbrella has the details including the announcement to Bauer employees. It’s telling that Goodchild will keep his current role:

From 5 January 2015, David Goodchild (44) will be in charge of Bauer Media Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. He is the successor to Matthew Stanton, who will be leaving the organisation of his own accord in order to take up a fresh challenge in a senior role at Woolworths. Goodchild will be assuming his new role in addition to his current responsibilities as Chief Executive of H. Bauer Publishing in the United Kingdom.

Bauer Australia moves from a full-time CEO to a part-time CEO. I’m not sure what this means for the local business given that many challenges remain that are unique to Australia.

The other telling note in the Bauer statement is Goodchild’s long-term publishing credentials.


→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines

Learning from looking at newsagencies and retail in the UK

Mark Fletcher on October 29, 2014 6:10 AM

Here’s a video shot this week where I explore some of the insights I picked up on my trip to the UK earlier this month – looking at retail and at the newsagency conference I attended.

The trip was instructive beyond what I cover in the brief video and some of the insights will play into a Newsagency of the Future series early in 2015.


→ No CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities · Optimism

Is Coles engaged in predatory pricing for Newspapers in Port Lincoln?

Mark Fletcher on October 29, 2014 6:02 AM

I’m told that Coles is not passing on freight costs imposed by News Corp. for flying its print products into Port Lincoln. In doing so, Coles is selling The Advertiser at a significant discount to newsagents who are passing on the freight cost.

What Coles is doing sounds like it could be predatory pricing as defined by the ACCC. Funding for the freight must be coming from other parts of the business as they would not make enough from newspapers themselves to cover this.

My question is: is Coles doing this to damage the small business newsagencies with which they compete? Such an allegation would be hard to prove. That said, harm to the newsagents and benefit for Coles are the only outcomes I can see from the Coles action.

I have contacted Coles about this ion behalf of the newsagent who brought it to my attention and so far have received no response.


→ 9 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Newspapers · Social responsibility

AFR story on retail tenancy incomplete

Mark Fletcher on October 29, 2014 5:59 AM

mallsbounceThe AFR story yesterday on specialty stores recording 2.8% year on year revenue growth in shopping centres in Australia is incomplete as it did not record that these stores have been hit with at least 5% year on year rent increases as agreed in their leases.

Newsagencies are included in the speciality store cohort. Given the 2.8% is an average, I suspect many will have recorded a sales decline. This is the challenge for long term leases – you agree to an increase based on expectations and assumptions and have to pay it regardless of what actually happens.

I’d have liked the AFR to more completely report on the situation for specialty stores – so their readers understood what while 2,8% is good, it is not enough to fund the increase in rent faced by these businesses.

Min my own situation, sales are up 17% year on year in the last quarter so I am ahead on the 5% increase in my lease. This is due to constant change in the business and thoughtfully playing outside what is expected of a traditional newsagency business.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · retail leases · Retail tenancy

News Corp. promoting the reimagined newspaper

Mark Fletcher on October 28, 2014 8:53 AM

futurenewsAt the News Corp. offices in Adelaide the company is promoting The Advertiser – your paper reimagined. Nowhere in the promotion spread across the front of the high-profile office building is the newspaper promoted. This promotion is all about their new app.

News Corp. is doing what it needs to do for its future relevance in a world where how and when we consume news continues to change at a rapid pace.

Newsagents need to observe carefully the actions not only of News Corp. but all newspaper publishers for their actions can better inform our own business plans and, in particular, the role print newspapers play in our future.

There is no significant upside in the future of print newspapers. I say significant because there will be spurts of growth there and there based on stories or some promotional activity. However, there will be no sustained, bankable, growth in the sale of print newspapers. I think News Corp. knows this and that is why emblazoned across their Adelaide office is this digital only promotion. If I was a News Corp. shareholder, I’d be happy to see this positioning by the company.


→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newspapers

Back to the future: cutting 250 magazine pockets from the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on October 28, 2014 5:51 AM

magdeptWe have just cut 250 pockets from our magazine department with the removal of two double sided fixtures to make way for an expanded gift offer in-store. NOTE: We have not cut magazine range. This move is a back to the future approach…

In the early 1990s the push from Gordon and Gotch leadership at the time was for newsagents to move away from partial cover display – where we layered titles such that around a third of a title showed – to what was called full-face display. With less space now as a result of removing two fixtures, we are moving back to a partial cover display in some segments, where we can fit up to three titles in a pocket that used to host one title.

This approach enables us to reduce the overheads associated with magazines. The rent saving to the department will be close to $10,000 a year. I am confident we will not lose any magazine sales. In fact, I am confident we will continue to grow magazine sales at in excess of 10% year on year.

Magazines are important to newsagents as they continue to deliver excellent foot traffic. Leverage that foot traffic into purchases of higher margin items and you make the magazine foot traffic even more valuable.

Too often I see newsagents reduce fixtures as a lever to reduce titles. While this may be appropriate in some situations, it may not in others. Think about such moves carefully. It could be that cutting floorspace allocation delivers the savings you need to maintain your current title range.

Thanks to this latest move and our year on year magazine unit sales growth, the value of the magazine department to this business is stronger than ever.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: magazines · Newsagency management

Not sure about interest in Katy Perry

Mark Fletcher on October 28, 2014 5:44 AM

magskatypWhile we are actively promoting the various Katy Perry titles out at the moment I am not sure about shopper interest. The best indication is what we hear across the counter. In terms to Katy – nothing. No matter, we’re pitching the Katy titles in two locations … with kids titles and teen girl titles.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Calendars with magazines

Mark Fletcher on October 28, 2014 5:41 AM

crosscalHere’s another simple placement that drives calendar sales – this time puzzle themed calendars with crossword and puzzle magazines. I’ve seen shoppers come in to spend Under $10 and walk out spending $30. Tactical placement drives a deeper basket.


→ No CommentsCategory: crosswords · magazines · Opportunistic retail · Tactical display

Watch out newsagents: it’s theft season

Mark Fletcher on October 27, 2014 12:50 PM

Further to my post Saturday about a newsagency employee stealing from customers for lunch money, I have had calls today from two different newsagency businesses about theft. One was suspected employee theft over the last three months amounting to $9,000 – the cost of the second hand car the employee just purchased – and the other was from a supplier rep who short-changed returns credits over the last couple of years costing the business an estimated $8,000.

People steal because they think they can get away with it. The tighter your processes the less opportunity they have and the less likely they will steal.

It’s on you.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: theft

Helping a magazine publisher reach their audience

Mark Fletcher on October 27, 2014 6:19 AM

stellaStella magazine is a niche title aimed at a Pacific Islander audience. The print run is too small to justify distribution through traditional routes. The publisher is keen for advice on how to reach the right newsagents with this special interest title and I offered to pitch it here. You can contact the editor, Amanda Donigi, here:

Having a good selection of special interest titles serving interests of shoppers local to us is important to our future in the magazine space, especially titles supermarkets and convenience stores are not likely to offer.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Launching a new national newspaper next Saturday

Mark Fletcher on October 27, 2014 6:10 AM

21st Century Media, through distributor IPS, next Saturday launches Australian National Review, the print version of it’s news website 21st Century News.Here is a video which positions the new newspaper:

Saturdays are the print media battleground of the month.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency opportunities · Newspapers

Walking Dead 2015 desktop calendar opportunity

Mark Fletcher on October 27, 2014 6:06 AM

wdcalThis 2015 Walking Dead desktop calendar is an excellent opportunity of thoughtful buying to drive calendar sales. The new series of the TV show has just launched to extraordinary ratings. Now is the perfect time to pitch this calendar.

Having licenced calendars is a key factor on our 2015 calendar sales being up 150% on last year. There are three simple steps to making excellent money from calendars:

  • Buy thoughtfully to your demographic.
  • Buy on good terms – margin and payment timing.
  • Be opportunisting in your promotion – change placement almost daily.

Calendars are an example of where we can make our own success.


→ No CommentsCategory: Calendars

Tapping into Rolling Stones interest

Mark Fletcher on October 27, 2014 6:02 AM

guitar-stonesWe have this miniature licenced Rolling Stones merchandise as a feature among our male gifts. It’s part of a broader rand of licenced products from several suppliers that we have sourced for music fans and for collectors of specific licenced merchandise.

We sell cards for guys so why not gifts?! Too often I hear newsagents say male gifts are a challenge. They not if you think about it laterally. Male gifts are not as obvious nor is the segment as well served as is the case with female focussed gifts.

Get your male gifts right and sales surge as gift shops often ignore the opportunity.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts · Greeting Cards

Satisfying Doctor Who fans

Mark Fletcher on October 27, 2014 6:00 AM

whomagsWe are embracing the opportunity to the golden era of Doctor Who coverage by placing magazines together based on cover story more than masthead. SciFiNow will be browsed by more shoppers as a result of this.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

A new magazine

Mark Fletcher on October 26, 2014 12:26 PM

Check out the ABC story about a new magazine published out of a start up business in Wollongong. NSW. Future Perfect is in the same genre as Smith Journal – long form articles.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Supermarkets and free magazines

Mark Fletcher on October 26, 2014 12:22 PM

I missed the SMH article – Supermarkets major players in magazine market with readers hungry for free food content – when it was published two weeks ago. It looks at an important competitor to magazines we sell and offers telling statistics:

The figures mirror Roy Morgan Research, which said Coles Magazine was the best-read magazine in the year to June, with 2.9 million readers per average issue, while readership of Fresh was up 30 per cent year-on-year to 2.2 million.


→ No CommentsCategory: Competition · magazines

Wired asks: Are digital magazine dead?

Mark Fletcher on October 26, 2014 12:19 PM

Are digital magazines dead? in Wired magazine is not so much abut the question as it is an explanation that the medium is in its infancy and so it’s too early to speculate.


→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption

Sunday newsagency marketing tip: do a survey, offer a prize

Mark Fletcher on October 26, 2014 6:31 AM

Create a survey and invite shoppers and others in your community. Ensure the survey is relevant to them and to your business. Keep it simple. Provide the opportunity for their contact details in return of a small prize opportunity. Note on the survey the opportunity to opt out of future marketing.

Use the survey to find out things you did not know. For example, ask shoppers to rank product licences – this could guide your buying. Ask them to tell you who they purchase gifts for: male / female; age ranges; distance from the town. Ask them to vote for their favourite gift out of ten you include on a voting slip. Ask them to tell you how many cards they currently purchase each year. Ask them to list what they would like to be able to purchase at your shop that they cannot purchase today.

Don’t ask all these questions. Choose a theme for your survey and build questions around that. Genuinely seek to discover things you do not know about your customers and their interests today. The responses should help you in your business planning and product purchasing.

Promote the survey in-store, across the counter and even in letterbox flyers. Pitch is such that locals know you are genuinely interested in their opinions.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency management tip: be smart behind the counter

Mark Fletcher on October 26, 2014 6:27 AM

popvcWhat your customers on the wall behind your counter? If you this space to store items you cannot fit on the shop floor like me, set the items you are storing for impact, to drive sales.

We store POP! VINYLS behind the counter. Rather than stacking them as you would in a storeroom we placed them facing customers and added a sign to leverage the well-known POP! VINYL brand.

We need to leverage space in our businesses. We need to be thoughtful in our choices, including items where people will notice them and where they will be open to purchasing.

I have found licenced products work at the counter, driving impulse purchases. The Pop Vinyls are all well-known licences and therefore easily understood and purchased in addition to the destination purchase.

When I write that we create our own success (and failure) as I do often here, this post is a good example of that. We turned a storage necessity that initially was not ideal into an opportunity that is playing out to impulse purchases.

A shopkeeper would have stored the items as storage whereas a retailer would turn the problem into sales.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management

News Corp. opens its Victorian election campaign with a incomplete attack about Intralot

Mark Fletcher on October 25, 2014 8:39 AM

intralot-biasWhile the Victorian Labor Government screwed up the introduction of Intralot in 2007, they are not to blame for the $63M loss by Intralot in my view. The blame for the loss rests with Intralot for poor management, Tatts for their sales counter land grab and several independent authorities that permitted small business newsagents to be treated in such a way that cost them millions in business costs and lost sales. In my view, many were involved in this mess, not just the Labor government.

I say the News Corp coverage is biased because they have not addressed the inaction by the Liberal government in their four years in power. If Labor is responsible for what happened from 2007, the Liberals are responsible from 2010.

Politicians on all sides let newsagents down. They left us to defend ourselves against extraordinary bullying by Tatts that cost us millions in capital and much more in lost sales. Newsagents lost while many parties, including News, stood by and watched as this happened.

At the heart of the issue was how we used the scratch ticket bays in our Tatts shop fit. The logical approach would have been to sell Intralot scratch tickets from here. Tatts said no. Newsagents were left with expensive real-estate that could not be converted to commercial use. To make things worse, we had to find space elsewhere at the counter, away from the Tatts real estate, for Intralot equipment and materials.

So here we are in a retail lease that we pay for and Tatts is in control, denying us an opportunity to operate commercially. No one knew that Tatts would behave as they did until Intralot started installing. Newsagents were left to fend for themselves.

Professional reporting would have included an analysis if scratch ticket sales around Australia fro 2007 to today and thorough comparison or a monopoly lottery situation versus the more competitive environment. While I don’t know what such investigation would have revealed, the report by News today is incomplete and, in my view, biased.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Lotteries · Social responsibility