Independent Newspapers calls for talks

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Independent Newspapers asks to meet retailers to discuss margin dispute as action spreads nationwide and Sunday Indo is boycotted for seventh week



8 March 2009

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As ShelfLife went to print, newsagents and convenience stores throughout the country had temporarily agreed to call off their action against Independent Newspapers, as the publisher sought a meeting to discuss their dispute. Although no promises had been given of a possible renegotiation, some retailers said they saw the move as a positive development.

Others were less optimistic however. Galway retailer Stephen Daly, who was to attend the meeting, said that while he was pleased the newspaper group was willing to enter into a discussion, he did not expect it to be “hugely compliant” with retailers’ demands.

Retailers in Galway had been engaged in collective action against Independent Newspapers for seven weeks by the time the meeting was called, including an all-out ban on the Sunday Independent. While this action was seriously affecting the businesses concerned, Daly affirmed that it would “absolutely” be going ahead should the talks fail to produce the desired resolution; the reinstatement of retailers’ margins on Independent Newspapers products.

Two weeks prior to this, retailers in Dublin met to decide collective action to sync with the efforts of others in the rest of the country. That weekend a “widespread” boycott of Sunday Independent took place in the capital and in several other counties.

In addition, a letter from “a very large group covering the midlands and west” was sent to the advertising customers of INM informing them that their commercial inserts will be returned to them.

The following weekend retailers reported that vendors had been dispatched to sell copies of the Sunday Independent outside their shops, illegally in some cases, as in the district of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown where the activity is in contravention of its bye-laws.

By this time also, Independent Newspapers had informed Vincent Jennings, CEO of CSNA, that it was seeking an injunction against him for organising the boycott, citing trade magazine interviews given by Jennings as evidence.

Despite the “very hostile action” of the group, retailers due to meet Independent Newspapers said they were anxious to “get back to business.” It was felt however, that conceding the margin loss was not an option in the current climate.



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