Australian Newsagency Blog

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

How to become a newsagent

Mark Fletcher
September 10th, 2020 · 16 Comments

How can I become a newsagent? This is an interesting question that close to 100 people type into Google in Australia every day.

If you want to open a newsagency business, you need to organise supply of newspapers, magazines, lotteries (if you want those products), stationery, greeting cards and anything else you want to sell.

There is no one place to do this. The relationships is the list, lotteries, newspapers, magazines etc. are supplier driven. There is a formal approval process to go through, often requiring some form of financial security.

It can feel daunting if you are going it alone.

If you join a group they may help you navigate the processes. Update: I’m the owner of the newsXpress newsagency marketing group.

The training process, too, is broken in that lotteries has their training requirements and if you are in this category then their training will be the most important.

For me, I think that it is what you do outside what has been traditional for the newsagency channel that matters since those categories are where you will get most future growth and GP%.

So, if you are looking to open a newsagency business or convert your business into a newsagency my advice is to research fully the product categories you wish to offer and talk with the suppliers to see if your location and business suit what they could be looking for in an approved retail partner.

Back in the day, the best initial entry point was newspapers, through the local council controlled by the publishers, followed by the magazine distributors. Today, papers and magazines are straightforward to organise and this is done through local distribution agents.

If you want lotteries, start there. Tabcorp and Lotterywest have structured publicly accessible processes, which you should thoroughly research.

Back to the Google searches. It is interesting seeing these, this number, daily. It is one of a bunch of keyword searches that demonstrate strong interest in retailers joining our channel.

The number of searches has not changed much through 2020, so it is not a Covid thing. There has always been good interest. In part, this is driven by developers looking for our channel to be represented in new developments.

If you are looking to open a newsagency or convert a business to be a newsagency, do your research, take your time, ensure you are sure in your own mind about the business you want to create.

15 likes

Category: Newsagency management

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Graeme DAY // Sep 10, 2020 at 7:12 AM

    Mark, in your many blogs you state in so many different ways that Newsagencies are finished as a model per se.
    No one in fact can open a newsagency. Publishers no longer have Agents appointed by contract as an ongoing supply situtaion. Those that do have existing contracts are mainly Rural -and this is diminishing as many are handing back the delivery side of the business.
    the encourage this retail competiton is wrong it’s incorrect in concept and dsirectful for those already struggling with the inherited business model.
    Howver it is good for newsXpress as you state.

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  • 2 Peter // Sep 10, 2020 at 7:31 AM

    Personally, I believe the most important thing to understand before you entertain buying or starting a newsagency is YOU. What type of personality are you? Do you really want to be a serious retailer and all that entails? Do you have the energy and commitment to retail 7 days a week and grow new product lines. As Mark has said before, the agency lines are not quite as lucrative and important long term to a newsagency. You have to create a destination business and that takes a lot of work, in the merchandising and online fields. If your idea is to simply retail agency lines and you don’t have the required energy to look outside that box, then a newsagency, or for that matter, any retail business may not be for you in the 21st century.

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  • 3 Mark Fletcher // Sep 10, 2020 at 7:37 AM

    Graeme, this post has nothing to do with newsXpress.

    I think the traditional newsagency model is dead. That does not mean I am right. Search results show a reasonable number of people search the topic. This is why I wrote about it today.

    Further on this, it’s only dead if that is all the business is. Of course, plenty of smart newsagents have traditional ad a foundational core and then play away in terms of categories for value and new traffic.

    In recent experience helping a couple of people, what I have outlined in the post is what they found worked for them in arranging supply of the core items mentioned.

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  • 4 Graeme DAY // Sep 10, 2020 at 10:04 AM

    Your encouragement and articles to improve the still designated Newsagency owner is without question. In this post you are giving broad advice that is not applicable to where in your own words the business is headed and you do mention “if you join are Group thay etc” I agree with this statement and you do represent a Group so it’s a self uinterest statement I am not being unkind just endorsing the same thing. The confusion is you are giving them a broad concept of knowledge of which they do not understand. Group with hold their hand and their are plenty of newsagecies that are seeking to sell, privately, and (I say this because I am a newsagency Broker and this is NOT about me it’s about this post) at a price much cheaper than set up costs. These shops already have Lotto etc that can be transferred much cheaper than opening a new Franchise with the the Franchise fee payable now. You could pitch this to the newcomer and they may join your Group for assistance which is not anly helping the industry by halting the closure rate it is supporting the transition of which most that are failing haven’t done.
    We need to “fix” the problem not invite new people to continue the same old same old.

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  • 5 Mark Fletcher // Sep 10, 2020 at 10:19 AM

    The post has been written solely to serve those typing How can I become a newsagent? into Google. It’s not all they need to know, not by a long shot. It’s a starting point, better than where people land today when they type it in. I’ve not named groups as I don’t see the post as about that.

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  • 6 Graeme Day // Sep 10, 2020 at 10:49 AM

    The real point is they want a Newsagency if they buy an existing one directly from the current owner They can get one cheaper than start up. Then they will get all the help they wish for.

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  • 7 Andrew M // Sep 10, 2020 at 2:08 PM

    To all newcomers ‘Caveat Emptor’. Google that one.
    I’ve had two. Never again. And when I see long established agencies pulling down the shingle and walking away after decades of service it’s a fair indicator that this is not a business model to enter into blindly. The business will ‘own you’ despite the hype on this blog. Australia is on a downslide for some time so don’t go borrowing against your house to buy into this dream of ‘being your own boss’
    It doesn’t exist. If this post gets published (very few of mine do) I will be vilified from pillar to post by team Fletcher.

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  • 8 Mark Fletcher // Sep 10, 2020 at 2:48 PM

    Sorry to hear of your situation Andrew. There are many who have left the channel having had success. Like almost any business, success is there for the making. Key, in the newsagency channel, is the embrace of change.

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  • 9 Steve // Sep 10, 2020 at 4:56 PM

    Mark you are spot on. Our channel is in the midst of change and has been for some time and yes the traditional lines are in decline and offer little if any growth. Having said that I am amazed at the number of other channels willing to take on our traditional agency lines.

    I am a believer that our channel is well positioned to diversify successfully into other retail lines. Many have whilst others less entrepreneurial have chosen to exit.

    Yes Graeme it makes sense to look at purchasing an existing agency though I tend to disagree with your assertion that this is always the most cost effective option Yes this route carries less risk but unfortunately many traditional newsagencies on the market have not had a shop refit in many many years. Many also have not transitioned to the new lines. Sellers look to recoup goodwill which simply doesn’t exist. Naive buyers often pay for stale stock that has not sold in years. I for one remain open to investing in startups in the right location.

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  • 10 Mark Fletcher // Sep 11, 2020 at 7:04 AM

    Now, is you search How to become a newsagent in Google, this article is the top natural result, which goes one of the reasons I wrote it.

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  • 11 Amanda // Sep 13, 2020 at 12:51 PM

    Andrew M your comments have some merit, The Newsagency industry isn’t easy and retail is constantly changing…if you don’t do the research and take the risks to change your business..you will fail. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of poor Newsagency operators out there who should never of purchased a newsagency or thought it would be easier than their previous employment and found it too hard. There are plenty of retailers who have not moved on with the times and all those types of retailers are vulnerable.

    But it’s a pretty naive comment full of sour grapes to claim the industry is dead because your business failed.

    I sentiment Steve’s comments.

    There are plenty of opportunities out there to purchase an Newsagency and bring life back to it. There are also some extremely good operators out there who turn poorly run Newsagents into highly profitable stores. Excellent retailers who move with the times, take risks and back themselves.

    Personally, my husband and I actively look out for such opportunities where poor retailers are running what could be a fantastic business. 3 years ago we identified a newsagency for sale by a poor operator. He closed and we jumped at the opportunity.
    . ..it did $15,000 a year in gifts under the previous operator…. Now our business we sold more gifts than that in one week last week for Father’s Day and are on track to turnover $400k in gifts for the year despite Covid-19.

    So that’s one example and there are plenty of other good retailers out there who have fantastic vibrant modern newsagencies which are extremely profitable.

    Whilst the traditional newsagency model may be dying, those that go down the path of a modern newsagency are thriving.

    As far as being on the Mark bandwagon, Mark and I have traded blows over a period of time on different topics due to differing opinions… but my posts are never deleted. This blog is a great place to get ideas and information and for people looking to begin their newsagency life….

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  • 12 Mark Fletcher // Sep 13, 2020 at 1:05 PM

    The sales benchmark reports published here speaks to terrific success for engaged retail newsagents.

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  • 13 Peter // Sep 13, 2020 at 3:40 PM

    Congratulations on a great Fathers Day trading result Amanda. It’s very satisfying when you’ve done all the hard work in getting the product mix right and then it’s well received by the public. I used to refer to it as “humming”. When your shop is full of customers and humming with noise and stock flying off the shelves. There was no better feeling in retail.

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  • 14 Andrew // Sep 13, 2020 at 3:59 PM

    @Amanda #11
    As usual you have a lot to say and seem to relish in giving advice to mere mortals. Nowhere in my post did I say my businesses failed. They didn’t. So don’t verbal
    I said it is an industry not to enter blindly or lightly. I worked hard and got out at the right time as others around me collapsed.

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  • 15 David // Sep 13, 2020 at 5:32 PM

    Andrew protests.

    It’s okay Andrew, mortals make mistakes.

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  • 16 Steve // Sep 13, 2020 at 5:56 PM

    Inspirational Amanda and thank you for sharing. I agree with you this blog site is a fantastic forum to share ideas and learn from others. I too have no ties to Mark or his marketing group but I thank him for his insights and contributions to the channel.

    1 likes

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