Magazine distribution in Australian remains a running sore, as Neville Newsagent explains.

Are newsagents being loaded up with unwanted extra stocks of magazines this month?

Newsagent complaints are being heard that Gordon Gotch and Network Services are the culprits. No extra stock has come from NDD (part of the Hannan IPMG Empire). And the extra stocks are not the Pacific/ACP titles that Gordon and Gotch and Network handle, it’s the lesser known, smaller circulation titles.

Bankers say their newsagents clients (in Sydney at least) are having to provide more working capital to meet the higher delivery levels from both companies.

Newsagents say their gross bills have jumped by 30% this month, and that’s money that stays with G&G and Network until the returns are netted off.

With electronic exchange of returns information, newsagents can now tell within a fortnight of the start of the month what an accurate level of returns for the month will be.

But both G&G and Network do not refund returns money until the end of the month, meaning the newsagents are effectively financing some of the working capital employed by G&G and Network in their businesses.

That’s always been the case, but the jump in bills and unwanted extra stock on some obscure titles has become very noticeable so far this month.

Meanwhile, the big st*ff-up in the deliveries in and around Sydney on Sunday and Monday of this week grows stranger. Magazine drops were late or non-existent on Wednesday at some newsagents (Australia Day).

It was the second time agents have been left short of stock of new magazines from the big publishers. And Wednesday was a short selling day because of the public holiday.

The mix ups and other problems of the merging of the two main delivery services is taking longer to sort out than previously estimated, especially by Network Services, part of the Packer empire’s ACP group.

ACP’s Network Services has named the rationalising the magazine delivery system, Project Hero, an unflattering Code Name given the present hardly heroic problems.

Many in the delivery business claim the problems are coming from Network and ACP, but others say Gordon and Gotch are in the deal with Network and shouldn’t be forgotten.

Last weekend in the latest botch-up, deliveries that should have been done late on Sunday night weren’t done until eight to 10 hours later in some cases, with unmarked vans driven by low paid contractors making the deliveries, not 1st Fleet trucks.

Similar delays were reported with Wednesday’s deliveries.

The problems came from the amalgamation of the Network and Gordon and Gotch runs into one truck service, based mostly on Gordon and Gotch delivery patterns in most areas.

A magazine business insider meanwhile says: “Network/ACP in their wisdom brought forward the Australian Women’s Weekly which would have normally been on sale Wednesday, creating even bigger headaches for the delivery drivers and contractors.

“Why? No explanation except that it could have been a cheap attempt to boost more sales of the Weekly into the last ten days of January.

But why? Like so many purchase decisions, buyers of magazines are set in the way they buy the Weekly regardless. Being out early doesn’t necessarily mean extra sales.At times ACP can’t give them away without enticing readers with free or discounted movie tickets(from Hoyts, naturally) a Mars Bar and a carry bag.

“Network st*ffed up the run allocation badly in trying to renumber parcels of magazines.

“Drivers reported that they were tossing country deliveries, including subscriptions, off their trucks which only handled the metropolitan. Truckies wonder why network does this sort of thing at the last minute and ask who is really driving all of this.

“Would you not wonder about a business like Network and its managers constantly blundering?

“Our $25 million man, John Alexander is most likely lifting the mats and sweeping the mistakes under so to cover up his managers short comings
“The nobs at Network, lead by Phil Parsons and offsiders must be running out of answers to convince JA that it’s not their fault but the

Poor old 1st Fleet, under siege like no other business in Australia at the moment, and like others prior to them, are the meat in the
sandwich and always portrayed as the incompetent operator where in fact much of the problems come back to Network”

And don’t forget Gordon and Gotch.

Meanwhile at Network what’s happened to the Pony Express?

Pony Express was a project that saw customers emailing in from around Australia. It involved subscribers who were on newsagent delivery and those who were receiving their magazines by Australia Post. Basically they emailed someone at Network each time their magazine turned up to let Network know how long it took for the magazines to reach them. It seems that Network needs this subscriber feedback because the company has no idea of how long it takes for the magazines to reach the customer. No idea at all.

Like the Blind leading the blind.