- National newspapers have savaged WH Smith's distribution performance in an attack that pours scorn on the retailer's plans to establish a national press distribution system. Smiths was heavily criticised for what was a Mirror Group Newspapers spokesman described as, "a deliberate policy to progressively cut resource levels and de-skill their personnel."
The MGN spokesman added, "W H Smith's poor performance across all major newspaper groups is a clear indication of just how far they need to go before they can claim to have all the answers for newspaper and magazine distribution."
MGN has produced monthly league tables of wholesale agents' performance since January 1999. The group announced that 66 percent of W H Smith agents appeared in the bottom half of the tables.
This was far from the only complaint levelled at the retailer, however. The Telegraph group described W H Smith's news performanc as simply, "woeful." A spokesman added, "The group has put a disproportionate amount of effort into attempting to improve WH Smith News' performance but it has been an uphill battle."
An announcement from News International added that WH Smith's new super distribution houses at Borehamwood and Stockport performed equally poorly. "Only the absence of a credible alternative allowed these operations to survive as News Internationl distributors," said a spokesman.
WH Smith's Lloyd Wigglesworth denounced the reports as, "propaganda." However Cliff Ewan, the circulation director of the Telegraph and vice chairman of the NPA stood by the comments.
"Propaganda is a distortion of the truth but these statistics are exactly how things are," he said. "The evidence is there in black and white. Publishers are fed up with Smiths' talk of new systems when they know that they consistently perform worse than the other retailers.