It’s January 2024 and a good time to consider this question: Is a newsagency a good business to buy in Australia?
The answer on whether a specific newsagency is good for you to buy will depend on the newsagency, it’s past performance, it’s specific situation, the prospects for the region, your resources and your own retail skills.
But considering the question Is a newsagency a good business to buy in Australia? broadly, I think the answer is yes.
While what newsagents have traditionally been known for has changed, there is plenty of upside for engaged retailers prepared to play outside those now blurred lines of tradition. There are also excellent opportunities within plenty of product categories, including:
Stopping looking like a newsagency. Aussie shoppers have an expectation that a shop that looks remotely like a newsagency will sell what they think a newsagency should sell and will therefor not visit or visit depending on their assumptions. I’ve seen newsagents grow their businesses by not looking like a newsagency.
Gifts. This is easy and the opportunities are considerable. Whereas in the past gifts in newsagencies tended to be lower priced and bland, newsagents I see having success play in higher value niche spaces, and they do well from this. It takes investment, passion and commitment.
Stationery. Plenty of newsagents are reporting growth in stationery sales both in traditional stationery and with impulse purchase must-have stationery such as fashion forward journals and cool pens. It is in this second area of stationery that there is opportunity for even more growth if you engage with trends and stop thinking about stationery as purely functional.
Cards. With millennials and gen z shoppers we are seeing good card sales. But to win them you need to engage with the category in ways that some of the older card companies in Australia struggle with. I see plenty of newsagents growing card sales by being innovating in terms off where they pitch product and the ranges they offer.
If your question is whether a traditional newsagent is a good business to by where traditional to yo0u means lotteries, newspapers, magazines traditional functional stationery and cards then, I’m likely to say no as that type of business with an overall gross profit percentage of between 28% and 32% is flat or declining. But, that type of business can offer good bones for innovation away from the tradition. Again, the key is to pay a fair price based on the actual profit and loss numbers for the business – beware add backs that don’t make sense.
Newsagencies are changing hands, the businesses are selling. There are sellers and plenty of willing buyers. I think 2024 is a good year to buy a newsagency.
Footnote: I’ve not mentioned newspapers and magazines because these poor margin categories are of less interest to me. Newsagents have little or no control over the range of products they stock, no control over the sale price and are burdened with product management requirements that are rooted in practices that were out of date thirty years ago. These poor practices dictated by suppliers add to the cost of business and suppliers are yet to demonstrate an appetite to modernise despite years of promises and the often repeated claim that newsagents are important to them.