Australian Newsagency Blog

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Fairfax misses opportunity to connect with retail newsagents

Mark Fletcher
August 30th, 2014 · 25 Comments

If Fairfax wants to increase over the counter sales of newspapers they need to develop a better relationship with retail newsagents.

Yesterday, they published a list of newsagents offering a deal for the Good Food Guide and The Age bundled together. From what I can tell these are newsagents who also deliver the newspaper.

I don’t deliver so I’m not on the list. Yet I know I can sell plenty of their papers and plenty of copies of their Good Food Guide – if only they would engage directly with me.

How Fairfax has handled this demonstrates breathtaking ignorance by the company in the changing newsagency business.

It’s very simple: to grow over the counter sales, engage with those who own and run businesses with counters, engage with retail newsagents.


Category: Newspapers · Ugh!

25 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Brendan // Aug 30, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    These days retail and delivery are for all intents split so ALL retail agents should be treated the same. Newspower are doing this for us now even though we are a subagent but the way our authorised explained it to us a few years back their retail outlet is virtually a sub to their delivery arm (almost just like us)


  • 2 Brett // Aug 30, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Is it the case that not one newsXpress, Nextra or indeed ANY group newsagency was part of the deal? Or does Fairfax not bother with getting the agency names right?


  • 3 Mark Fletcher // Aug 30, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    To their credit, folks at Fairfax who work on the Good Food Guide responded to my tweet about this. They did not know.

    I don’t think it’s connected with any group. I think it relates solely back to distribution agents.


  • 4 Brendan // Aug 30, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    Don’t know how that read newspower as I’m a newsXpress member. Was supposed to read Newscorp. Sorry for any confusion:(


  • 5 BrettS // Aug 30, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    Fairfax has not made a good decision on there own future when it was right in front of them.
    I see them still unable to make a decision that will move them forward and the blame must be laid at the board’s feet.

    By now both parties would have lost a lot of both retail and delivery agents to only retail. And that is a lot of knowledge removed from delivery and in a lot of cases given to people who have no prior knowledge of Newspaper delivery,

    If anyone of them REALLY want to sell Newspapers and Promotion’s if would be as easy as allowing retail only to log into the web site and set owe own supply quantities.

    Or if that can not be done submit quantities to Fairfax or News and the delivery agent told to deliver these quantities.

    All players Win.


  • 6 Mark Fletcher // Aug 30, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    In a pure profitability sense fairfax is going okay if you look at their latest numbers.


  • 7 Chris // Aug 31, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    I look at this from 2 angles. I am the only distribution newsagent in my area now. (All others have handed them in and they are distributed from a company located out of area). For the strength of the group we all need to display and sell the products advertised to provide a consistent platform. On the other hand, as the only one left I have an advantage and have gained extra sales by being the only one who has stock. And why should I not take advantage of this as I am the only one still with my territory and these side benefits are part of the reason why I kept it. For the good of the channel Fairfax needs to separate retail and distribution and provide a business platform for both parties.


  • 8 Mark Fletcher // Aug 31, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Chris I agree about separation. Both businesses have different needs. Unless the publishers more thoroughly engage with retail newsagents newspapers will decline in interest to them.


  • 9 Bretts // Aug 31, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    This is why both Newspaper companies need to remove paper allocation from the distribution Newsagent be it through a web site or through themselves as some through lack of knowledge or for their own benefit are killing retail sales through undersupply.

    It will only be a matter of time before retail lose all interest in Newspaper sales.

    We had the Rep from News in to include us in the DVD promo but no paper increase after repeated requests.
    After he has said on both occasion he has seen to an increase.

    Sold out of DVD and papers within 2 hours of opening, my regular customers are not interested in why they can’t buy the Tele so they go to One of the Supermarkets who have so much oversupply it’s a joke.


  • 10 Mark Fletcher // Aug 31, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Brett I’d note that I am not looking to cut the distribution agent out of the relationship from an economic sense.


  • 11 Bretts // Aug 31, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    I don’t want to cut him out either happy to have them doing deliveries.

    But without really being looked after with paper supply or Promotions from either party how can I build sales?

    If I am sold out within a few hours each day how can I hold my customer who today only wants to buy the paper off me when I don’t have One to sell him?


  • 12 jenny // Aug 31, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Bretts you might find that your distribution newsagent is having also having problems with supply. Our News Corp rep puts our supply up when requested then it gets adjusted back down, quite frustrating because my shop often runs out. However they keep our retail agents supply pretty spot on so talk to your rep.


  • 13 Vaughan Lawrence // Sep 1, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Fairfax connect with newsagents……almost laughable Mark. I’ve been running this store for near on 12 years in Beechworth and it has been at least 8 since i have seen a representative from their company. They only contact us now to complain about a missed delivery (99% of the time it’s their fault).
    My fear is if they continue with the current attitude towards newsagents, their sales will continue to decline, they WILL pull Monday to Friday editions; and if that happens we’re all stuffed! News Ltd will die a quick death if Fairfax does this.


  • 14 Dennis Robertson // Sep 1, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    Hello Vaughan,

    I can’t make the link between the scenario of Fairfax pulling M-F editions and that suggested event impacting upon News Corp to the degree they would “die a quick death”.

    Would appreciated you expanding on that thought a little to assist me join the dots so to speak.


  • 15 BrettsS // Sep 1, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    @ Dennis that made me lol


  • 16 Chris // Sep 2, 2014 at 4:51 AM

    If there SMH pulled M-F I would start selling 500% more Australians!


  • 17 david // Sep 2, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Hi check mon aust page 20 re newspapers


  • 18 Dennis Robertson // Sep 4, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    @BrettS, yep, me too, now. I think enough time has transpired for a response.

    Sometimes silence is a powerful tool and sometimes it’s perhaps an admission.

    @david, thanks for that, I hadn’t seen the article before your tip. Andrew Robertson (no relation) is a powerful voice for keeping print in the mix going forward as Publishers continue to struggle with digital models.

    It is clear Fairfax executives have been rewarded by shareholders for slashing costs in print. I think its just a short term boost in profitability. I’d put $5 on to say they have gone too early and too hard in harming print, whilst the digital way remains unclear. (To be balanced, Greg Hywood has rejected suggestions he has talked down the medium leading to the downfall of advertising sales)

    News Corp are a much more powerful ally for Newsagents. They can still see the benefits of moving forward cautiously with the right mix and IF they are considering some innovations for HD in Sydney, then it’s good news for print.

    @Bretts post No.9
    As a Distribution ONLY Newsagent in SA, I serve 2 Retail Newsagencies amongst other outlets and it is in our joint interests that daily newspaper supply allocations are optimised for sales with a few left over at end of day. The same applies for Promo items and I am keenly aware of their requirements. If the numbers are insufficient, the Retailer can talk to either myself or the News Corp Area Manager and get the fix done. This happened just recently with the David Attenborough DVD’s.

    I seriously do not understand why the flawed models interstate are allowed to continue. All that has to happen is that the self-interest of a Distributor has to be on the same level and conditions as the interest he has in the Retailer he supplies. You just have to join the dots to work out the model. In saying that, I have no doubts that there are some very good and honourable Distribution Newsagents who also own a Retail outlet.


  • 19 Mark Fletcher // Sep 4, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    I have two newsagencies. In the one served by a distribution agent who does not compete we received the title. In the other where the distribution agent has a retail outlet in the same centre we were not supplied. This is appalling behaviour but typical for this fool of a newsagent. If I complain to him he will have an excuse as he always does. My joy is seeing his retail business struggle.


  • 20 shauns // Sep 4, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    A bit nasty that last bit


  • 21 Mark Fletcher // Sep 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    Shaun their behaviour is nasty and has been for years. I’m over it.


  • 22 Dennis Robertson // Sep 4, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    Just to reference back to the subject matter in Mark’s initial post, I would not be amongst the list of published Newsagents offering the deal. How could I, I don’t have a retail outlet. Therefore the issue doesn’t arise.

    I think Fairfax Media have done a huge disservice to Victorian Retail only Newsagents and they need to get their collective heads out of their digital hidey-holes for a while and look at some of the issues before them. It seems to me that Fairfax are well behind the eight-ball in comparison to News Corp.

    For the Team at Fairfax who worked on the Good Food Guide/Age bundled campaign, I would say – how much better could the results have been if you had embraced specialist Retail Newsagents from the beginning.

    To miss such an opportunity, it almost beggars belief they are in the publishing and sales business at all.

    To give News Corp more credit, I acknowledge their recent change to having Area Managers, previously aligned with Distribution only Newsagents, to now be directly linked to retail sales. I think that speaks volumes for the manner in which each Publisher is tackling the ever changing challenges ahead of them.


  • 23 Vaughan Lawrence // Sep 5, 2014 at 6:08 AM

    Sorry Dennis; I didn’t realise i was required to reply within a certain time frame; and your reply “Sometimes silence is a powerful tool and sometimes it’s perhaps an admission” is not appreciated.

    An admission to what exactly?

    From experience, My Age readers would not migrate across to any Fairfax publication, they are completely different readers. I wouldn’t receive a massive kick in sales if any kick at all.

    If Fairfax pull Monday to Friday publications the backlash from our customers would be significant, both Fairfax and News Ltd.

    Customers would see this as another nail in an already struggling industry and would possibly migrate online or not bother with the newspaper full stop. I see nothing positive about Fairfax pulling Mon – Fri publications.

    Traffic flow would decrease as a result, therefore decreasing the impulse buy of other publications.

    And if News Ltd are so committed to the Newsagency Industry, why do they continue with free Newspaper with a $30.00 purchase promotion in Supermarkets?? The last promo went for a month!


  • 24 Dennis Robertson // Sep 5, 2014 at 12:20 PM


    My general appreciation of silence remains the same and is almost always tempered with words like “perhaps” for the exceptions that almost always go with general statements.

    Your response is welcomed.

    Speaking from experience, I have found that News Corp (in this state at least) has always been supportive of Retail Newsagencies and regularly conduct ‘Bundling’ exercises with them. That regularity is equal to that of other groups.

    The support for Retail has also just increased quite dramatically recently with higher selling outlets enjoying regular 4 weekly rep visits with lessor sellers having 5 or 6 weekly visits. As I mentioned before, News Corp Area Managers have moved from a position of being almost dedicated solely to Distribution NA’s to being dedicated solely to the Retail sector. I am also aware of a non-Area Manager position that has 2 full days dedicated to visiting/contacting Retail outlets each week.

    It is my understanding that Fairfax do not have that same level of commitment to Retail Newsagencies. If I’m wrong, let me know. I’m happy to be corrected on any mis-perception.

    In relation to the Ritchies bundling being done, the retailer has to purchase the papers. I might also add that as a Distribution Newsagent I receive a smaller commission than the Retail Newsagent I supply with the bundling papers.

    As you speak from experience regarding your Age readers, I am doing so as well in respect of ‘Bundling’ exercises done by News Corp in company with certain retailers.

    It’s great that a variety of opinions and thoughts are allowed to be heard on this site.


  • 25 Dennis Robertson // Sep 12, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    On ABC Breakfast this morning’s guest commentator on ‘print newspaper headlines’ said something along the lines it was a shame that neither the Age nor SMH ran (as a headline) the big international Oscar Pistorius story when it was obvious that News Corp is geared up to print events that happen at a time that used to favour all print publishers. All major News Corp Publications ran with the headline story.

    Here in Adelaide, the News Corp Team at the Print Centre, whilst for obvious reasons started printing later, had another boomer production night and completed the run in really fast time.

    Does the failure of Fairfax (in other media’s eyes) further suggest that earlier decisions by Fairfax to cut costs in print may have gone too far too early?

    Outcomes such as this also add fuel to the speculation that decisions by News Corp on where to cut costs in print have been more insightful than those decisions made by Fairfax executives.

    Again News Corp appears to trump Fairfax in relation to its support and balance for print media.


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