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February 21, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:57am

Telegraph back on sale at all WH Smith newsstands after companies resolve dispute

By Charlotte Tobitt

The Daily and Sunday Telegraph will return to every WH Smith store across the UK this weekend after resolving a commercial dispute.

Retailers were “disappointed” after Telegraph Media Group put the cover price up on its papers by as much as 25 per cent at the start of February, but delayed passing on the benefits to newsagents until August.

Press Gazette reported this week that WH Smith stopped selling the Daily and Sunday Telegraph in a number of its UK stores as a result.

The Financial Times claimed this amounted to 120 WH Smith railway station stores and directly linked the decision with the dispute.

In a joint statement today, the companies said their negotiations had come to a satisfactory end.

A joint statement from Telegraph Media Group and WH Smith said: “Both parties are pleased that discussions have now been resolved.

“The Telegraph will return to its usual position on newsstands in all branches of WH Smith from this weekend.

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“The Telegraph and WH Smith look forward to working together with activity which supports the Telegraph’s subscription strategy.”

A Telegraph spokesperson said they would reveal more about any future initiatives “in due course”, but declined to give further details.

The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has previously said the six-month delay on increasing sales margins was “disappointing” but acknowledged benefits for shops that help TMG bring in subscriptions.

The group’s national president Stuart Reddish said: “This move will obviously be disappointing to many news retailers and the NFRN does not and cannot endorse margin reductions, particularly when our members are operating under such financially challenging operating conditions.

“However, we have held discussions with the Telegraph to explore ways in which we can work together to increase sales and we have identified some clear benefits for members prepared to support the newspaper publisher’s subscriptions-first strategy.”

The cover price of the Daily Telegraph went up by 25 per cent from £2 to £2.50 at the start of this month.

The Saturday edition went from £2.50 to £2.80 and the Sunday Telegraph from £2.20 to £2.50, increases of 12 and 13.6 per cent respectively.

But the Telegraph also said it would maintain its current pence-per-copy margins until 1 August, when they will increase by 15.5 per cent overall. It is understood this remains the deal with retailers.

The annual renewal cycle for subscriptions means it takes 12 months for cover price rises to fully transfer to Telegraph subscribers, with the publisher opting for a six-month delay in giving retailers their share.

Press Gazette understands that when TMG told retailers of the price changes, it was keen to emphasise the value of subscribers to them in footfall and long-term revenue.

The Telegraph has set itself a target of reaching 10m registered users and 1m paying subscribers by 2023.

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