The spat between newsagents and The Guardian has rumbled on after the newspaper was accused of stealing customers from local retailers in London.
Trade body the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) has condemned The Guardian’s decision to print a loose insert into a copy of last week’s paper offering direct delivery subscriptions to readers within the M25.
The NFRN claimed it was a direct attack on newsagents providing home delivery services.
It claims The Guardian is trying to ‘steal’customers through ‘unfair competition’by offering consumers free delivery, guaranteed delivery before 7am (8.30am on Sundays) and by giving subscribers a free gift worth £60.
The row comes a month after retailers warned they could switch support to rival titles following the paper’s decision to cut their share of the cover price from 25 to 24 per cent.
Newsagents claim there was no consultation on last week’s insert and that this was further evidence of how ‘contemptuous’publishers are toward ‘retailers whose living depends on newspaper sales”.
NFRN national president Kieran McDonnell said: ‘After recently meeting with the Guardian’s senior management and having secured their promise to improve communications and to work together for mutual benefit, I am absolutely livid over this callous action against London members.
‘By giving retailers no notice of this loose subscription advertising pre-insertion, many will not have known of its existence and will have inadvertently let this go out to customers in today’s paper.
‘I’m assuming this will be a one-off loose insert since if the Guardian thinks it can get away with this stunt again once retailers are pre-warned, they may be badly mistaken.’
He concluded: ‘This is potentially damaging to our ongoing working relationship with the Guardian which must be built on trust.”
A Guardian News & Media spokesperson responded: “Our direct subscription scheme launched in October 2010 as a result of reader demand for a direct delivery service and is in line with other delivery schemes currently being operated by our competitors.
‘This scheme is just one way in which we provide readers with our content. We continue to support independent retailers though GNM’s subscriber scheme, which offers customers a discount for using retail to purchase their newspapers, and are working with retailers to help support their HND activity.”