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Buying a business: Newsagents

A business that will deliver - read all about it

What is it? Who is it suited to?
Before you take the plunge How much does it cost?
How much can I earn? Tips for success

Delivering the early morning papers through sun, rail, hail and snow to earn a few pennies while at school is something many have done, myself included. But what if, further down the line, you were able to expand on that idea and actually buy and run your own newsagent business?

Well it is possible. Newsagents are currently one of the most popular businesses to buy alongside post offices. This is partly due to the fact that the choice of revenue streams – whether it is newspapers, groceries or the National Lottery – has never been greater.

What is it?

Millions of us buy newspapers and magazines, lottery tickets, confectionery, and other necessities from newsagents. This is why newsagents and ‘corner shops’ have become something of an institution in the UK. What would happen without that Sunday morning stroll to pick up the paper, a carton of milk and some eggs for your soldiers? Newsagents are always nearby, open when you want them and often the heart of small communities.

These factors and others are a great pull for the many thousands of newsagents that exist in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Around 20,000 of these belong to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN). It lobbies Parliament on various issues, offers convalescence benefits, free workshops and trade show entrances, legal fees, regular updates as well as other services to its members.

The NFRN is a very useful and well-established organisation that represents small independent newsagents. It has the ability to deal with large corporations such as newspaper and magazine wholesalers. Newsagents are almost always tied to a particular wholesaler and have little choice over terms and conditions imposed on them, and this is something that the NFRN is trying to redress. Membership costs only a few pounds per week, so it is worth joining up to have someone fight important battles for you.

Having said that, as a newsagent you are independent. You look after your own deliveries and orders, stock levels, wage bills, rental agreement if you own a leasehold property, and must find new ways of promoting your goods.

Running a newsagent is a people and community-orientated business. It takes a great deal of hard work to build up and maintain a steady profit. You can sell newspapers and magazines, sweets, cigarettes, snacks, fresh produce, toiletries and bathroom products, lottery tickets, rail cards and bus passes in some shops, as well as batteries and medical products. You can also expand it to create a convenience store and include a small post office.

One drawback is the hours you may have to work. This is a factor that all the newsagents we spoke to warned about. Your day starts at the crack of dawn with newspaper and fresh produce deliveries, and customers can arrive from around 5am until late at night (depending on your opening hours).

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