Maxim, Dazed & Confused and four other magazines have been put back
on newsagents’ shelves thanks to an 11th-hour reprieve by retailer WH
The six magazines were threatened with delisting after WH Smith demanded
a 5 per cent uplift in retail terms from their distributors, Seymour and
The retailer claims it is losing pounds 1.3 million a year selling
Seymour’s magazines and is looking for an improvement in margin from all
Controversially, WH Smith claims to be losing money on Maxim, which is
its 23rd highest seller. This would suggest virtually all magazine sales
are unprofitable for the nation’s largest retail chain.
WH Smith backed down after Seymour took legal advice that suggested the
retailer’s action was in breach of anti-competitive legislation and that
the threats amounted to criminal blackmail.
The parties have now agreed an eight-week truce during which the
distributors will scrutinise WH Smith’s figures and attempt to find a
solution. The distributors are resisting an increase in terms and point
out that publishers have to pay large increments for special shelf
positions on top of the retail margin.
However, one of the other four titles threatened with delisting, thought
to be Dreamwatch, has broken ranks and agreed to an increase in
The other three are Home, Airlines World and What Laptop?
Dazed & Confused, which recently paid WH Smith for an instore promotion,
got a last-minute reprieve following an emergency meeting between its
editor Jefferson Hack and WH Smith.
Seymour client services director Paul Hamtel commented: ’This incident
has sent a shiver down the spines of all publishers. We need to look at
their figures and agree a way forward.’
Seymour said it could not negotiate terms with WH Smith as its contracts
are with its wholesalers.