WHSmith responds to review fears

WH Smith has responded to concerns about its plans to de-list some specialist titles from the newsstand by assuring publishers that it is committed to selling magazines “in a more controlled way”.

The Periodical Publishers Association called for an urgent meeting with WH Smith last month over the proposals, which could see hundreds of specialist titles facing closure. The range review proposals dictate which magazines should be stocked in WH Smith and many publishers face huge cuts in the number of outlets where their titles are sold.

They felt the plans were too hasty and would not give them time to make necessary adjustments and find alternative routes such as subscriptions.

Phil McNally, WH Smith director of news, dismissed concerns that the review could threaten WH Smith’s position in news retailing. He told the PPA that better control of poor performing titles and better displays, through controlling space and flow, would improve sales and profitability.

He said WH Smith would continue to work closely with publishers to spot opportunities to boost sales and profits from weaker titles.

The PPA has been working with WH Smith to come up with ways to handle levels of supply and unsold copies.

PPA chief executive Ian Locks said: “When a retailer reviews its range it can be incredibly tough for those titles which lose out. But equally, publishers have to recognise the need for a retailer to meet the needs of its customers.”

By Ruth Addicott

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