The row between newspaper/magazine retailer W H Smith and Associated Newspapers [WAMN: 29-Nov-00] over their distribution contract has moved one step closer to the courtroom, judging by a document obtained by The Times.

The internal memo, penned by Lloyd Wigglesworth, head of WHS’ distribution operations, informed senior managers that the retailer would not give in to Associated’s decision to end the contract without a fight. It states: “Whether Associated is able to do that would probably have to be decided in a court of law”.

The memo also adds: “This action will attract the attention of the OFT [Office of Fair Trading] and a referral to the Competition Commission is now likely”.

Associated has hit back, calling the memo “arrogant, intransigent and inaccurate”. It claims that it gave W H Smith six months notice, as specified by the contract.

Wigglesworth admitted writing the memo, claiming that newspaper publishers are ganging-up on WHS to force it out of the distribution market.

News source: The Times (London)