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

The Australian Newsagency Blog is a blog of personal opinion and commentary on issues affecting Australia’s small businesses newsagents and local retail.

About The Author

Mark Fletcher owns a newsagency software company Tower Systems, newsagency marketing group newsXpress and 3 newsagencies in Victoria, Australia. You can reach him on +61 418 321 338 or mark [at] towersystems.com.au. Outside of work, Mark is a produced playwright and a published author. His most recent book, Not Dead Yet, was published in June 2023.

Mark used the blog to come out in May 2014.

Join the discussion

  1. James Tuckerman

    Hi Mark,

    I’m an independent publisher and just discovered your blog. Tremendous!

    I’m constantly trying to think of ways to support our friendly newsagent owners.

    In fact, I just ran a blog of my own that I hope will support retail sales (http://editorsblog.anthillonline.com/wordpressmu/).

    I’d like to suggest a section or tagged series on advice for publishers.

    It’s hard sometimes for publishers to enter the mindset of a newsagent owner (if they visited your blog, I suspect their eyes would be opened).

    Anyway, keep up the good work.



  2. mark

    Thanks for the comment James. I have a blog post half completed on independent publishers – advice for them and for newsagents. When I post I will be sure to establish a new tag. While some aspects of independent magazines are frustrating, they are important to our future and we ought to more effectively embrace them.


  3. James Tuckerman

    Thanks Mark.

    Speaking from the trenches, we fear the loss of independent media, I assume, the same way that independent newsagents watch the large chains with trepidation.

    I’m fortunate enough now to have reasonably high sales. But the early days were daunting, living in constant fear of range reviews from the big players or confusing ‘little guys’ (calling our magazine Anthill didn’t help).

    The ABC ran a short story on us in 2006 (http://www.anthillonline.com/article_detail.php?id=414), where you can see just how humble our beginnings truly were.

    If newsagents stay independent, there will be a greater chance of more niche titles making their way to the shelves, which always has draw backs (many don’t sell, frustrating for you guys) but the upside is greater commercial creativity, a broader array of opinions and a smarter country.

    I’m not sure that magazines can stay vibrant and creative if the newsagent channel is homogenized by a few.

    So, I watch your blog with fascination and respect. 🙂

    Best regards


  4. jim

    Hi Mark,

    there is just few voice about bill express from newsagecny. Could you put the following into your blog?

    Bill Express unfair Agreement Hit Newsagent

    More and more newsagents get angry at unfair change of contract by Bill Express. Bill Express started taking $500 per/month from their pocket.

    The newsagent sale mobile phone recharge card and pay bills through Bill Express platform and at the end of the day, the profit from this platform is far from cover its rental charge which is $495 per month plus GST.

    The post office have more advanced bill pay system. The rental cost is around $200.00 per month but including POS system and post office bill pay system nearly can pay any bill.

    Why newsagent signed up with Bill Express at first place? The reason is very simple. Bill Express had told most newsagents that the system is free after the market subsidy.

    The subsidy was removed from February and advertising rebate removed from March too. Now newsagent have to pay $495 per/month rental fee for a system that can only generate or make $5~$15 commission pre/month.

    I wonder what sort of Agreement that newsagent with Bill Express. Is it a ‘Agent Agreement’ or it is a ‘Rental Agreement’. If it is later, why newsagent rents a big plasma screen to display Bill Express Advertise at its own cost?

    Any Business trading should fair. This is the essential business rule for our society.

    If Bill Express keep doing like this, newsagents will draft away from Bill Express. That is why newsagent wants to stop paying Bill Express.



    Hi Mark,
    Atrocious behaviour this morning by magazine distributors. No notification of the massive delivery problems this morning. Beechworth will not recieve magazines until 11.00am this morning; the only reason we know this is because we contacted our delivery driver who notified us. At Seymour store i would not have a clue when they will arrive, so we just sit here and twiddle our thumbs. Two issues, one; lack of communication by distributors which needs massive attention, two; what has caused this hold up that all magazines from three distributors is held up??
    NewsXpress Beechworth
    NewsXpress Seymour


  6. Shannon Cooper

    Hi Mark:

    Love the blog (and was interested to read James Tuckerman’s comments- I love Anthill), as a person who is interested in small business, and I have been a subscriber for over 18months now.

    Anyway thought you might like this http://magcloud.com/Home



  7. HG


    Is there any section about Point of Sale systems used by newsagents in this blog? It is good to see there is a website for newsagents opinions and thoughts.




  8. mark

    HG, Click on the newsagent software category for more posts on this.




  9. David Sanders

    I would liek to know if newsagencies in Australia have to pay freight costs to get magzines delivered to their shop. We are in Norfolk Island and have to pay the freight cost which add significantly to the price of the mags, without any subsidy. For magazines unsold we are left with the cost of the freight without subsidy!!!


  10. Michael

    David, I get the Sydney Morning Herald freighted to me each week and I include the freight in the price. I explain to customers that they would get it unless they paid for it.


  11. David Sanders

    I did forget to mention as a friend just pointed out, we are a part of Australia, for those that may not be aware of where NI is situated.


  12. Michael

    I did!!!


  13. Ross Kilpatrick

    Could Newspapers and Magazines Sales Disappear with FREE Online stories?

    I just attended a online seminar in Silicon Valley in the USA at Stanford University, and I could not get anyone to tell me what is going to happen to Free TV, Newspapers and Magazine quality as more people go on line for FREE stories and entertainment.
    I am the CEO of Huntingdales Brand Builders and Advertising in Sydney, Australia. We need to confidently advise clients on what media will give them there the best return on investment.
    I am quite disturbed to see the Current Affair style TV shows directing their viewers to websites after they run a story. This will only effect the advertisers and the quality of FREE TV. Advertisers will not wish to place ads on TV if this practice continues. Why does James Packer know, that we don’t? Why did he sell out of the family Channel 9 business? The quality of writing in US newspapers has hit an all time low. And for the media savvy, we know the rest of the media gain their stories from the daily press. What will this do to balanced journalism if we don’t have competent, well disciplined jurno’s starting the story off correctly in the first place? Huntingdales also run an online shopping site called http://www.streetsmartshopper.com.au where we supply top brand appliances, fridges, washing machines and TV’s below normal retail prices. In the future we would like to run advertising on TV and in the press to gain more awareness. However, it will become harder and harder to gain an extra share of voice without good press and FREE TV.
    Does anyone know what will happen to magazines and newspaper sales?


  14. Sam

    i run a small corner shop which has Bill Express. This business is running at a loss. Now this burden of $545 is impossible to organise. I am increasing loans to manage. Is there any organised way to get help? can somebody shed any light for me in this serious problem we are now facing due to the deceitful conduct of the notorious Bill Exp mgmt.


  15. SHAUN

    Sam put a stop on the direct debit and put that money away into a different account just incase we ever have to pay it back atleast that way it will not hurt as much if that day ever comes and if it never happens just think of the money that you would have saved


  16. danni

    hi mark,
    my name is danielle nelson and a religious reader of you blog. you have helped me with many problems ie bill express, and shown me many different way to advertise in my little lotto shop. Thank you.

    Now i would like your help again, this year because tatts dont have sratchies i have taken the liberty to organize a company to make some x mas trees up for Lucky tix use. to make it cost and time effective i had to order 100,000 trees. Now my question is could you help me promote the fact i have trees for sale? the cost to customers would be the same as if tattersalls did them, $2.50 a tree and that should also cover delivery cost. (still getting quotes).

    If you have any other questions please give me a call any time on 0418 377 338 or drop me a e mail nelson.sd@hotmail.com.

    please let me know either way. hope to talk to you soon Danni Nelson of Warragul lotto and gifts.


  17. SHAUN

    Thats a whole lot of trees to get rid of .They are a popular item for xmass i will send an email to get a price over the next few weeks


  18. michael

    We signed up with touch 4 weeks ago to sell through a St George terminal. We can log on but that is all. No stock to sell. Emails faxes and phone calls are in vain. Does anybody else have this problem?


  19. Neil

    Michael I started with touch on the 16th July I’ve had a couple of hiccups but once you get through to the help desk and they have done an update it works ok.


  20. helen

    When we first installed the StGeo eftpos terminal we received an email about joining up with Touch/EPay by filling in the form.
    after that we were told we’d be informed and be given a password.
    Then after waiting about 2 wks, we rang up customer hotline, they said we had been allocated a password and all they need to do was to load the service onto our terminal. it just took 15min, after which we could start selling straightaway.

    The only grievance I have now is with EPay who doesn’t provide us the statement on time to check their direct debits on Tue&Fri, it usually arrives a week later.
    so more work for me to check.
    Touch is better in them providing an email the same night they withdraw on Mon.


  21. michael

    Thanks Neil & Helen waited on the help line. Was told we have everything except Optus Vodaphone & 3. Should have the best sellers soon.


  22. Dr Steven Locsktone

    Hi Mark, I was wondering if it were possible to advertise the website service detailed here: http://www.findachiro.com.au onto the billexpress screens?

    could I pay to run a powerpoint through them?


  23. danni

    hi mark, As previously stated on a few comments ago i tryed to get some Xmas trees on the go, with high cost and not much intrest i call madeline at intralot. Together we came up with a new disign and cheaper than i could do it alone.
    Mark i was wondering if you can do a little blog and tell people that they can order the Xmas sleighs from the terminal at $2.
    The design is avalible to look at on the lntralot web site.

    i hope it will help drive the sales for intralot up.


  24. Ari Widianingsih

    Hi Mark,

    Just found your blog, its very informative and fab.

    I am a small publisher company in Bali and currently looking for a magazine distributor in Melbourne. We publish Bali’s home, living & decor magazine called Bali Style.

    Will appreciate any information on this.

    Keep up the beauty work



  25. David Sanders

    We recently signed up to Cardplai after reading about on this blog. Whilst we have paid for subscription back on 20 Marh 09, we have not seen anything from Carplai. My first attempt to ring there office was told they simply disappeared over night!!! Has anyone else had issue with them as I have aske dthat my money be refuned!!!


  26. LAUREN

    would you put the cat magazines out a bit more often.PPPPLLLEEEAAAASSSEEE


  27. Mehul

    I am signed up recently and reading all blogs


  28. Nathan


    I dont own a newsagency, but have found your blog to be fascinating as a small business owner. It’s tremendously well written, informative, and you hit the spot well with your opinions.

    Keep up the good work!


  29. Adam

    Hi Mark
    I’m not a newsagent operator but I do own and run a small business. I find your blog useful as it touches many issues faced by all small businesses today.
    I wonder if you have seen what your mates at ACP are up to this week in Coles? I noticed a 3 for the price of 2 magazine offer they are running in Coles only. Thoughts?


  30. lily

    does anyone know the number to call if something goes wrong????



  31. g



  32. Fred Crews

    Hi Mark
    I am waiting to see your comments on Saturdays Intralot promotion.


  33. Darryl

    Hi Mark,

    Another business operator approached me today and asked for any information on Chase Manhattan business brokers.

    I replied and said that they had approached me and I declined the offer.

    Do you or any other business operators know of this ccompany or have had any dealings with them?


  34. thewinchester

    Interested to hear your thoughts on this:

    Punters can join post office queue
    VANDA CARSON, Sydney Morning Herald
    November 30, 2009

    PUNTERS will be able to use their local Australia Post office to deposit and withdraw money from their Tabcorp betting accounts under a controversial new partnership which has outraged problem-gambling counsellors and anti-gambling campaigners.


  35. Karen

    We are currently looking at acquiring a sizeable newsagency in a major shopping centre here in north Qld, but our background is in hotels/motels. What is the average industry return on investment, and are newsgancies that include franchises such as ABC and Darrell Lea a better option to investigate. Also what is the banks policy in terms of lending against these properties? Any advice would be very much appreciated.


  36. Mark


    newsagencies are a good investment if you enjoy embracing change. I am seeing some newsagents achieve excellent double digit growth by aggressively pursuing change by bringing in products which leverage core traffic generating departments.

    There is no industry average return on investment. I have seen negative returns through to double digit returns. The keys are to achieve the best possible entry price and to not over-capitalise.

    The answer on your question re Darrell Lea and ABC books is – it all depends on the area. In the right area they add tremendous value to the business. I have Darrell Lea in three shops. It is a great traffic generator and adds colour and theatre to major seasons.

    Bank lending policies are changing, especially over recent months. I have heard of people borrowing 75% of purchase price. It is usually less than that. Borrowing has a high cost, especially with the latest fee changes by the banks. So, naturally, borrowing less is good for the business.

    Look at newsagencies with potential in mind. Fixer-uppers are more valuable.

    I hope these comments help.


  37. Adam

    looking at the anf website is it true you need to go throu there training package to be able to trade with acp, fairfax, gotch etc. or are there other ways around it. Also looking for as much info on things to look for when starting up a new agency . Are there any companies/ brokers that help setup and run a bussiness from scratch. We are brand new to this game but willing to learn as much from as many people as needed.


  38. Mark


    You do not need to complete the ANF training to get an account with ACP. newsXpress newsagents do not have this requirement. newsXpress is a full service newsagency marketing and management group.

    It helps with lease arrangements, store layout, shop fit, ranging, operation and management. It also provides access to excellent supply deals.

    For trsnaparency I note that I am a Director of newsXpress.


  39. newsmelb

    I have a personalised number plate for a motorcycle or scooter that reads ‘NEWS’ for sale. If anyone is interested, my phone number is 0434286996


  40. Y&G

    Haaa So do we. Never used it. Dunno why the owners at the time bothered!


  41. newsmelb

    EDIT: I have a VICTORIAN personalised number plate for a motorcycle or scooter that reads ‘NEWS’ for sale. If anyone is interested, my phone number is 0434286996


  42. Noray

    Hi guys, I was wondering if anyone can help me. I need the phone for the company that sells cheap Hoyts movie tickets. I get so many ppl coming and ask me as I am near Hoyts. Your help is appreciated.
    Thank You


  43. sue

    Hi Mark and newsagents,
    i have recently found your blog and have discovered lots of usful info. We are looking at maybe getting into the industry and would be interested to know what the feeling is among those curently in it as to where this industry is headed. Have we left our run to late? Is there life still left in Newsagencies? Thanks Sue


  44. Mark

    Sue, welcome! Here are my tips:

    1. Buy well. By this in mean where you have more freedom to exert your control over the future of the business. It also means not over paying for the business.

    2. Be up for hard work. It is hard work. Every day. Long hours. But the right business in a good situation can be tremendously rewarding.

    3. Be a change agent. The newsagent of old is dead. Go in expecting to turn the business on its ear, chasing new products and through these new traffic. Plenty of newsagents are doing this with success.

    4. Be strong. the sick magazine distribution model is the biggest challenge facing newsagents despite the denials of the magazine distributors. Address this by making sure that you do not have too big a magazine department – it is a fine balance between range and what is cost effective.

    I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Mobile 0418 321 338.


  45. Leon J

    Hey Mark,

    Myself and a few friends are research the greeting card industry.

    Wondering if you can shed any light on the rough margin’s on greeting card’s for newsagents. A rough ball park/ average would be fantastic.

    Also any intelligence you might be able to share around the usual distribution arrangements and any industry specific/quirky arrangement that are in place for the card industry.

    Many thanks in advance.





  46. Mark

    Leon, newsagents start at a margin of 50%. On top off that, depending on the size of the business and its affiliations, a newsagency can expect a rebate from the card company of between 15% and 35% (occasionally more) of purchases through the year.


  47. Bonnie O'Loughlin

    Im currently looking for 2xPrecious Rocks Gems & Minerals #1 for customer orders.
    I did have a backorder for my customers via our supplier but unfortunately it fell thru and they dont have the stock to supply me with. =( Someone help?!?!


  48. Karen Pollock

    G’day Mark,
    Great blog! I am a new business with a new gift product and this sort of insight is gold! I had a chat to a few newsagents at Reed Gift Fairs in Sydney and was really interested in the shift happening in Newsagencies. I got some great tips about what NOT to do when reading the supplier arrogance entries!


    By the way, I’ve designed and patented a gift range of stubby holders that have sound modules in them and the customer records their own message – very fun! (Sorry, couldn’t resist a plug!)


  49. Taylor Square Newsagency


    USA Vogue Seotember 2012 Airfreight

    Speedimpex AUstralia $12.92
    Gordon&Gotch $17.69

    Why the variance???


  50. john

    Newsagents receive generic advertising support from a publisher in the AFR Dec 12, 2012, on Page 7 with a color advt. not linked to industry groupings


  51. Brett George

    Hi Mark, Im looking for some help to get connected with news agencies looking for new products. We have tried several distribution companies but always get ignored. Sorry to contact you on here as it not ideal but i doing anything i can to get our product out there. I hope you can find the time to reply to me. Thank-you Brett


  52. Mark Fletcher

    Bill there are various routes to getting products into newsagencies: direct, through wholesalers such as GNS for stationery and others for gifts etc or through the marketing groups. If you email me details on your products I’d be happy to make some suggestions. Email mark@towersystems.com.au.


  53. Paul Chao

    Relationships between main newsagents and their sub.

    I am new to the industry (approximately 2-months) and already I am experiencing issues with my main supplier.

    Because the proximity of my business and theirs which is 300 metres as the crow flies, I have this feeling that my suppliers are supplying very little to sustain me.

    For example they supply me enough TV Weeks to supply my customers that I have on order and nothing to sell. When I request them to supply me they supply me a few days later where in the mean time those customers have sought elsewhere.

    Another incident is the recent Star Wars – Fact Files where the supplier claims that he supplied me when in fact he didn’t. It was close to a week later when I requested him to see the footage of him placing the items on my pile he then decided to supply me with them.

    Another time the supplier supplied me with a second copy of the previous week’s delivery docket and then invoiced me with the current week where the items are completely different.

    This is just the tip of the ice berg and I have only been with them for two months.

    It is beginning to be a relationship from hell and I have no avenue to go to to have them simply support me rather than an employer / employee relationship.

    What can I do?


  54. Mark Fletcher

    Paul, put your requirements in writing. Keep a copy of this for yourself. Track what you are supplied and complain to Gotch and Network if you continue to not get what you want.

    You should only accept stock with an invoice or delivery docket for what you have been supplied.

    If your sales are enough you can apply for a direct account.


  55. Sunny

    Hi Mark,

    I was trying to find some information about newspaper. I came across your blog and it is amazing ☺.

    I am looking for cover price for all the major newspapers in VIC (metropolitan area). If you can point me to the same it will be great.

    Thanks and have a lovely day ahead.



  56. Julie

    Hi I just found this site, but I am wondering is there any way I can message you privately to pick your brain a little?
    Our circumstance would be quite unique, but we are thinking of opening from nothing a newsagency, I want to incorporate giftwares and art/craft supplies.
    we live in a town with none of these businesses and as the town is now being developed I think this would go rather well…it is all rather daunting as I am not sure there is even a shop to lease/buy to open it…but my partner is entitled to a grant, and we are thinking we should just throw caution to wind and give it a go.


  57. Mark Fletcher

    Julie, certainly. I’m at mark@towersystems.com.au.


  58. David

    we are looking for a relief newsagent in the Melbourne metro area.

    Can you run a post to build a list o interested people please


  59. Mark R

    Hi Mark , just looking back over previous comments,this forum has been a great initiative by yourself . There is no doubt the topics you have raised and the feedback from fellow Newsagents has made a difference.

    Sure we can’t fix everything and we don’t always agree but putting differing views forward is healthy for our industry.

    I know of some Newsagents who regularly read this blog but don’t post and that’s fine to . Our business would not have transitioned as quickly without your input , thank you Mark


  60. Mark Fletcher

    Thanks Mark. I appreciate your comments. It is important to me the entire blog is online and searchable. I know from feedback that students appreciate this. What our channel is going through is of interest to plenty.


  61. kazi

    Hi , My name Kazi, Want to enter into newsagency industry sydney.Anyone here pls advise me whether it is good time to enter into this industry?Pls help me


  62. Kevin

    @Kazi. While it’s currently a lot cheaper to buy a newsagency than it was 10 years ago, the returns are not as great, because the sales volume through a single store isn’t there. There a lot of variables in finding a solution for this. One aspect of our experience is that by operating multiple stores and adapting our product range to the requirement of our regular customers in each stores’ area we generate sufficient net income to both live comfortably on and also to keep re-investing in our business. The value is in making good use of your location and your established customer base, while building a reputation to attract new customers.

    As Mark says it’s about being prepared to change and adapt. This has got to be a continuous process.

    Bottom lineis that unless you have a particular skill or craft to sell (e.g. engineer, artist etc) It’s a great way to go into business without having to get a franchise. Just make sure you have enough reserve capital to make changes to what ever business you buy.


  63. kazi

    @Kevin ,Firstly Thank u very much for ur opinion and advice.i register my business as newsagency and convenience shop.So I can be a newsagent as well as a convenience shop.Lastly could u pls tell me what do u mean by “It’s a great way to go into business without having to get a franchise.”Thank u again for ur valuable time u spent for me.


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