The pressure applied by Britain's print media titans has forced W H Smith – the dominant force in UK newspaper and magazine retailing and distribution – to abandon its controversial new national delivery scheme [WAMN: 29-Nov; 4-Dec-00].

In an effort to save face, WHS’ chief executive Richard Handover insisted that the about-turn is based on a deal with publishers that resolve the firm’s concerns over alleged inefficiencies in the present magazine and newspaper supply network.

WHS made no reference to the recent retaliatory cancellation by Associated Newspapers of its £100 million annual distribution agreement with WHS; nor Emap’s insistence that the chain must re-tender for its £150m Frontline contract.

According to The Times, the decision to backtrack in the face of pressure and the costs of abandonding the scheme could leave Handover vulnerable to accusations from investors and analysts of strategic failure.

News source: The Times (London) [01/01/01]