Magazine body disputes claim distribution changes will leave newsagents uncompetitive

MPAThe organisers behind a proposed pilot program to test changes to the magazine supply model has disputed claims the changes leave newsagents at a competitive disadvantage.

On Friday Mark Fletcher, director of newsagency marketing group newsXpress, told Mumbrella proposed changes to the distribution model will continue to leave newsagents at a disadvantage against supermarkets as they cannot do things like pick their own range and did not have the support of the industry.

However, Magazine Publishers of Australia executive director Mary Ann Azer told Mumbrella the industry body is in the process of putting together a revised submission to the the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) to cover gaps such as allowing the newsagents to choose the right range for them, bringing them in line with supermarkets’ practices.

“Supermarkets don’t have their own supply, they choose the range,” said Azer. “In the pilot we will do that, we will make the stores work with the distributors and publishers to choose the right range for them. We are supporting that.”

Explaining the process Azer said the pilot aims to reduce the over-supply of magazines in newsagencies.

“What we’ve taken to the ACCC for approval is to conduct this pilot because it’s effectively limiting the supply of a product into the market and redesigning those stores, looking at category education, how you revamp the shelf, look at the adjacencies and the category and use all the shopper insights to develop the layout of the magazines in these stores,” she said.

“If you want to do such a big project like limiting the supply, there will be around 11m copies cut out of the market, that’s a huge deal for the distributors. What we’re trying to do is test that and see what will happen to the market, how the titles will react.”

“This is a very exciting project. We have the support of the Australian Newsagents Federation (ANF),” she added.

When pushed on Mark Fletcher’s claim the ANF has not done its research Azer said he was “not the only voice in the market”.

While Fletcher suggested the pilot program had put on hold while the ACCC reviewed submissions, Azer said it was the MPA itself who had pushed it back from a planned April start to a May 25 start date.

“It’s not hold, we’ve got approval to go ahead with the pilot stores initially. We’re on track to do the pilot stores. We ourselves pushed it to May 25 because we had a lot of data to analyse,” she said.

Miranda Ward


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