The meeting was attended by representatives from publishing and Smiths News at the news wholesaler's Taunton depot on Monday 25th November 2019.
Setting the scene, the NFRN members attending tabled retailers' concerns about the consolidation of delivery runs, late delivery into wholesalers, regularity of reruns, the difference between weekday and weekend issues, threats to the future of HND, the restitution process, cut off extensions and poor communication.
The NFRN delegation comprised of former national president Ray Monelle, south west district president Derek Cook, south west district vice president Duncan Finlayson, South West national councillors Roy Crawford and Andrew White, along with prominent retailers Jeff Savage and Richard Crawford.
Positively, says the NFRN, the publishers' representatives were open and honest about the logistical problems they faced on a daily basis to ensure that their newspapers arrived into Smiths News depots in a timely manner and said that extra vehicles at additional cost were often used to mitigate problems.
Speaking afterward, local NFRN member Roy Crawford commented: “Having a meeting with all three legs of the industry present helped everyone to understand the problems we all face on a daily basis. Obviously there is no magic fix but I firmly believe that HND offers the best opportunity to at least stabilise circulation and offer some protection to our respective incomes."
John Howard from Reach was among the publishers present, alongside Andy Law and Neil McColl from the Mail, Ayk Tahir from News UK and Paul Shorey from The Telegraph. Mr Howard said: "I was struck by the enthusiasm for our industry shown by the NFRN members at Taunton. We ironed out a few issues around communication, especially for the cut off extensions, where Smiths News are pivotal and also had valuable input in the discussion.
"This level of engagement shows that all sides of the supply chain do care and we should continue to get round the table."
Summing up the meeting, NFRN South West district president Derek Cook said: “This region has suffered with delivery problems of late but by coming together we have been able to discuss ways to reduce reruns, shortages and bad packing to benefit independent retailers throughout the South West."
Pete Williamson, NFRN news operations manager, added: “Thanks should go to Paul Latham from Smiths News who opened their doors to us. There was total agreement that everyone has a vital part to play in getting the right amount of copy in the right place at the right time and that all sides of the supply chain must work together to protect the printed copy sale."