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ANF seeks ACCC authorisation to negotiate with 100+ newsagency suppliers

Mark Fletcher
February 20th, 2014 · 46 Comments

The ANF has applied to the ACCC for authorisation to engage in collective bargaining with many newsagency suppliers. I first heard about this when I received notification as a director of newsagency marketing group newsXpress and then a second notification as a director of newsagency software company Tower Systems.

I know that some suppliers are surprised they heard about this from the ACCC and not the ANF. I agree with them. Lack of communication from the ANF reflects extraordinary disrespect of suppliers – suppliers it calls on to sponsor events and fund other activities. This will feed distrust among suppliers about the motives of the ANF.

Take my own position, for more than thirty years my software company has faithfully served newsagents. The relationship it has with its 1,900+ newsagent customers is sound and stable. I can’t see the ANF as having anything relevant to represent newsagents on. I am suspicious as to their motives.

Given its own commercial activities, my view is the ANF is conflicted in seeking this authorisation. The last information released indicated it was a shareholder in one supplier offering a broad range of products and services. I also understand it received commission or other compensation for promoting other products.  These commercial relationships challenge the position it could take in any collective bargaining.

Here is the information on the public registers page at the ACCC website:

The Australian Newsagents Federation is seeking authorisation in its own right and on behalf of its Member State Branches, the Newsagents Association of NSW and the ACT, and the Victorian Newsagents Association to engage in collective bargaining. The Federation proposes that a national bargaining group be formed to represent member newsagents in negotiations with a range of suppliers, classified by the Federation as:

  • Insurance brokers
  • Business opportunities
  • Drinks- non alcoholic
  • Phone Cards
  • Greeting cards and wrap
  • Stationery
  • Banks
  • Newspaper publishers
  • Magazine distributors
  • Marketing Groups / Franchises
  • Tobacco
  • Confectionary
  • POS Providers
  • Broadcast and communication service providers
  • Electricity providers
  • Transport companies
  • ATM service providers
  • Service stations
  • Shopfitters
  • Commercial landlords

The Federation notes that the suppliers as identified by the application may change over time. The Federation also proposes that local bargaining groups be formed to negotiate with suppliers in particular circumstances.

The ACCC is currently seeking submissions from interested parties. Submissions should be lodged at adjudication@accc.gov.au by 4 March 2014.

Given that the ANF has not communicated its intentions with suppliers, it would not surprise me if they had not communicated with their partner associations – NANA and VANA.

I deal with associations in a range of retail channels and this is the first time I have seen an association seek such authorisation. Other associations approach suppliers in a relationship-building way.

6 likes

Category: Newsagent representation

46 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Adrian // Feb 20, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    They haven’t asked newsagents either

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  • 2 Carol // Feb 20, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Perhaps I am wrong but isn’t this what we belong to ANF/QNF for. This sort of comment just serves to further divide. You have regularly agitated for indivduals to bring their case to the ACCC over various complaints. Few of us could manage this.

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  • 3 P // Feb 20, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    you say( Other associations approach suppliers in a relationship-building way.) suppliers approach us in a profit building way with little care or respect for any of us(not all suppliers but a vast majority of them)Good on the ANF for having a go that we may all benefit from

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  • 4 Mark Fletcher // Feb 20, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    Carol, complaining to the ACCC is easy and free. Th is a blight on the newsagency channel that more newsagents have not done this. They are quick to complain and slow to act.

    What I don’t understand is why they ANF is seeking authorisation to negotiate in areas where they have no experience, track record or request from members and with suppliers with excellent and open relationships with their customers. Plus the ANF is in a conflicted position through its commercial relationships.

    Any negotiation is about what both sides can bring to a discussion. The ANF has no means of compliance over its members whatsoever.

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  • 5 P // Feb 20, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    again( and with suppliers with excellent and open relationships with their customers.)what are Gordon and Gotch and Network suddenly good suppliers and share an excellent relationship with their customers-hands up who believes this to be the case Didn’t think so

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  • 6 Mark Fletcher // Feb 20, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    P with magazine distributors I’d agree with you but banks, confectionery, shopfitters and many of the others? It’s odd. The authorisation the ANF is seeking to replace was not so broad.

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  • 7 Jarryd Moore // Feb 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    I would think many newsagents would make a distinction between two groups of suppliers with whom they want the ANF to negotiate.

    One of those groups would be large monopolies, utilities and non-retail services where the only consideration is the number of users. These would include newspaper publishers, magazine distributors, utility service providers and other general business services such as banking.

    The other group would be suppliers which engage at a marketing level or in some way such that their product contributes to a store’s USP.

    The former group is what associations should be focusing on. Those negotiations that are too big for marketing groups or are non marketable services is exactly the kind of think the associations should be engaging in.

    The latter group is the domain of either marketing groups, buying groups or cooperatives. As Mark points out these kind of suppliers require levers of compliance. Having an association play in this space that is already well served by existing groups would only work to dilute the industry of diversity in their offering and USP.

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  • 8 shauns // Feb 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    I do not see this as a bad thing at all much better than the alarm clock with a camera

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  • 9 Carol // Feb 20, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    Why can’t ANF find or recommend good deals from suppliers to us? Why do we have to belong to a buying group to get good deals if our association can do this. Anything that they can help my business is welcome.

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  • 10 Jarryd Moore // Feb 20, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    Because that’s not the purpose or role of an association Carol. It would also be a waste of resources for those members who belong to a group that already performs this function.

    Not only is it not their role, but from a practical perspective an association’s ability to get deals is highly limited by their ability to offer suppliers anything concrete.

    If there are stores in the industry that want a cooperative buying group without any of the compliance of a marketing group then by all means they should form one. This is not what a representative industry association is for.

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  • 11 n // Feb 20, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    And it is not like the ANF don’t have things they SHOULD be concentrating on – such as magazine model, OH&S of papers, one-sided contracts etc.

    IMHO they should sort the basics out first, before they dilute their water with more half hearted efforts in other areas.

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  • 12 Brett // Feb 20, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    The ANF need to do one thing right now, one big thing and get it right.

    If the ANF addressed magazine supply for the industry and made the system equitable for all of us, agents, publishers and distribution then I think they would gain a lot of well earned credibility and get a lot of agents back on side.

    Right now they appear very busy doing nothing that we really need.

    5 likes

  • 13 BrettS // Feb 20, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    You only need to look at the history of the ANF they don’t need to to anything, fees paid money made.
    Look back as far in history as you want all is working as intended.

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  • 14 Mark Fletcher // Feb 20, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    Carol, the best deals are those where there are commercial levers for getting the suppliers what they need. The ANF has no capacity for doing this at all.

    Brett (both of you: the ANF identified magazine supply as the one big issue in 2011 and has not achieved anything on it since.

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  • 15 Amanda // Feb 20, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    The only organisation that can negotiate with magazine distributors, newspaper publishers and Tatts is the ANF.

    In regards to the other items or categories listed, the ANF needs to add value to their product. Should they achieve a deal with a supplier for greater commission or discount above and beyond what is generally achievable than wow how the membership numbers will grow.

    Alternatively, continuing to do what they are doing now(not too much at all) they will fade to non-existence.

    I can’t see a problem with what they are doing. Good luck to them. But I do have doubts on them achieving anything, as the past records are not great.

    1 likes

  • 16 Brett // Feb 20, 2014 at 8:24 PM

    Mark,

    Exactly, and they wonder why people pay them no mind.

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  • 17 Mark Fletcher // Feb 20, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    Amanda, the ANF has had collective bargaining rights for circulation products foe some years. I am not aware of any achievements for newsagents.

    As for negotiating commercial terms, they have no commercial relationship with newsagents through which to deliver anything of benefit to suppliers in return for any deal.

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  • 18 Clive // Feb 20, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    Amanda, I agree (shock horror). Luv what you’re saying, the ANF is the tool we have to use to get better commissions etc.

    Mark, you hit the nail on the head in (4) “the ANF has no means of compliance over its members whatsoever.”

    I can remember reading something the ANF/QNF proposed about increased commission based on what training the newsagent had done (which they will provide for a fee of course, like the cert 4 for mags) which i don’t think is the way to go as our competitors don’t do it.

    I guess I am trying to say there is a solution there somewhere I just can’t see it yet?

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  • 19 Wally // Feb 20, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    Seems the ANF is damned if they do and damned if they dont.

    1 likes

  • 20 Mark Fletcher // Feb 21, 2014 at 6:45 AM

    If the ANF had been transparent about their plans for non circulation suppliers it would have looked better. If they had a track record of collective bargaining success it would have looked better. If they had a means of delivering compliance they could have hoped for a better response.

    The have had collective bargaining rights for circulation product for years.

    2 likes

  • 21 Jack // Feb 21, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    The ANF has had all the data they need to address over supply for years and they have done nothing. Why are we running back to an abusive partner thinking they have changed?

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  • 22 Dave // Feb 21, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    SO the question is – are any of you going to write to the ACCC and tell them what you think. Or – are you just going to whinge on this blog and let the ANF walk in unopposed.
    If you want it stopped tell the ACCC. If the ACCC doesn’t have any counter case the approval will just be a formality.
    We’ve written already because we don’t want to see any more snouts in the trough. We’ve told the ACCC that based on past experience our state association has never been able to get a better deal from suppliers than what we can get for ourselves, or through one on the many commercial groups that we can choose to belong to.

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  • 23 Amanda // Feb 24, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Is this article about ANF negotiating better deals for members or about the risk they could negotiate deals to take member’s away from Tower Systems or NewsXpress?

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  • 24 Mark Fletcher // Feb 24, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    Amanda it is about the ANF seeking to collectively bargain with a defined list of existing suppliers to newsagents – as explained in my post. I think you will find that nextra, the lucky charm and other marketing groups have been names as have other newsagency software companies.

    Had the ANF achieved a good record with the collective bargaining rights it has had to now maybe I would have been less cynical about this latest move.

    For any negotiation to work, both sides have to be able to deliver on their commitments. The ANF is not able to give suppliers any such guarantee.

    Tower currently serves in excess of 1,900 newsagents. I think this is more than ANF membership.

    1 likes

  • 25 shauns // Feb 24, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    On memberships what do you think the ANF would have

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  • 26 Mark Fletcher // Feb 24, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Shaun it is hard to say. If you include NANA and VANA I would guess around 1,600.

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  • 27 David @ Angle Vale Newsagency // Feb 24, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    I am in a buying Group, Newspower, and don’t see the ANF offering anything better than Newspower, Nextra, etc. We have all chosen our buying groups.

    Anyway, not an ANF member and by the sound of the way is run not likely to become one.

    0 likes

  • 28 shaun s // Feb 24, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    From what I see the bulk of the complaints are from non members .

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  • 29 Gregg // Feb 25, 2014 at 6:07 AM

    It worries me what the ANF are up to, take two products mentioned stationary and cards and wrap. We are happy with our suppliers and we did our own deals and are not a member of any buying group although it is in the back of my mind to join one. Why are the ANF doing this now, really they should of thought about this years ago when other groups where starting to form.
    It sounds like the ANF are now trying to become a buying group, but do they have the skills and savvy to bring it to a successful outcome, for me this is the worrying part. As a member of the ANF I hope they make a go of it but why are they not being transparent and letting members know what they are up to or will it be another deal being done without members being aware what is really going on like Hubbed. What was it 100 already signed up with Hubbed and a total of 1000 by June 2014, doubt it very much.

    1 likes

  • 30 shauns // Feb 25, 2014 at 6:45 AM

    Gregg I do not see what harm it could possibly do, if the deals they strike are not as good as what you already have then stay with the deal you have already made , pretty simple .If it is better then go with it .

    1 likes

  • 31 rick // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    the main isue with the ANF running around claiming to be the industry representative body is that they are not, they have really become irrelevant within the channel. the last couple of deals (connect and the crimvid thing) just reek of a desperate attempt to be seen as doing something. the fact that they are focussing on these dumb deals and not the real issues facing the industry just shows how out of touch they have become.

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  • 32 Jack // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    You don’t get kickbacks from fixing over supply rick.

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  • 33 shauns // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    You need the”kickback” to fund any fixing of over supply or what ever you want fixed , it is not a charity service they are running someone or something has to fund them because by the numbers of membership that Mark said they don’t exactly have a huge pool of cash to play with ,I am pretty sure the lawyers etc all charge for their services so where exactly do you expect the money to come from ?

    1 likes

  • 34 Jack // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    If they were of any use to the channel at all membership numbers would not be an issue.

    1 likes

  • 35 shauns // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    So don’t be a member but don’t complain nothing is getting done but problem is if something does get done you reap the rewards that others have paid for ..

    1 likes

  • 36 Jack // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    And here I thought this was a blog where any one could share their opinion.

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  • 37 shauns // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Feel free to express your opinion just as I do .

    1 likes

  • 38 Jack // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    You’re sending mixed message shauns

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  • 39 Amanda // Feb 25, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Currently no marketing groups get anything extra for members in regards to Tatts Lotto, Magazine Publishers or Newspaper Publishers, Insurance, Banking.

    Sure marketing groups can get you better deals on Card and Gift suppliers, and obviously they all offer something to members in regards to advertising, promotion. But I’m not aware of any group achieving anything in regards to the categories I have just mentioned.

    If the ANF can get me a 1% discount on my business loan, an extra 1/2% commission on Tatts Lotto, or an extra 5% mission on magazines or newspapers, then sign me up.

    2 likes

  • 40 Mark Fletcher // Feb 25, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    Amanda your opening sentence in comment #39 reflects that you are misinformed in terms of newspapers, magazines, insurance and banking. Some marketing groups do not publicise some deals.

    the ANF is unable to negotiate commercial terms as it does not have any mechanism through which to ensure member engagement. One only has to look at the mess of the N branding the ANF owns to realise this.

    3 likes

  • 41 Jim // Feb 25, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    I don’t know what possesses people to make them think that the ANF can possibly negotiate any better deals than what are currently available to most newsagents now!
    The ANF’s appalling track record on some of the major issues facing this industry (e.g. magazine distribution) and their refusal to even acknowledge through positive action that such issues exist suggests that, once again, they will attempt to mask this situation with the promise of extra commissions and discounts that will never eventuate.

    In Victoria, lottery agents are represented by the LAAV – why would Tatts want to listen to yet another group who don’t necessarily represent all agents anyway?

    Any member supporting the ANF’s attempts to divert attention away from the critical and core industry issues with sweeteners that in all likelihood will never eventuate is obviously not in need of an association anyway.

    6 likes

  • 42 shauns // Feb 25, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    If any ones still interested all the info is available on the ANF website

    1 likes

  • 43 Jack // Feb 25, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Hot of the presses only 5 days after an unaffiliated site reported it.

    1 likes

  • 44 Mark Fletcher // May 2, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    An update on this, the ANF withdrew its request for authorisation to collectively bargain with some suppliers including my software company but they did not tell the suppliers. It left this to the ACCC.

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  • 45 Clive // May 2, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    I think that is what you would call a circus run by clowns!

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  • 46 Mark Fletcher // May 3, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    Clive what’s odd is that the ACCC contacted me with information about their draft determination and they said in passing that they thought ANF would have advised me that Tower and some other businesses were no longer on the ANF list.

    0 likes

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