The first documented Australian newsagency opened its doors in 1855. Since then, more than 5,000 newsagencies have been established around the country.  Australians visit their local newsagency 1.6 times a week on average. They have become more than just the place for picking up the paper on your way home from work. It may be slightly easier and cheaper to purchase an existing newsagency and take advantage of their existing premises and operations, particularly if this is your first time running a newsagency. But if you are set on starting your newsagency from scratch and are not afraid of hard work, this article will guide you through some key legal matters to be aware of before you open your doors.

Where Do I Start?

As there is a considerable level of competition in the newsagency market, it is important you set up your newsagency business correctly from the start. This will give you the best chance of success.

Do you want to operate your business in partnership with your spouse or close friend? Or would you prefer setting up a company so that you are not personally liable for business debts?

There are a number of business structures you can choose from to suit the way you want to operate. It is best to seek legal and accounting advice before deciding which business structure is most suitable for your circumstances.

Where Should I Set Up?

Finding the right location for your newsagency can significantly improve the profitability of your business. Choose an area with high foot traffic, perhaps close to train stations or schools, or within, or near, a shopping centre. The more convenient your newsagency is to access, the more likely people will visit.

Regardless of whether you plan on buying or leasing a building for your newsagency, make sure you apply for relevant licences. You will need to check with your local council to operate your business at that site. You may also need approval to conduct any development work to fit-out your newsagency space.

Check the ABLIS website or contact your local council to identify exactly which business licences you may need and how to apply. This process can be time-consuming and costly. Make sure you conduct careful research and allow plenty of time to acquire any consent.

What Goods and Services Should I Offer?

Newsagencies face competition from a variety of businesses, particularly supermarkets and convenience stores. There has also been a steady decline in print media sales, as customers can easily access the news online. So it is important to think about what products and services your newsagency will offer that will draw customers into your store and set you apart from your competition.

In addition to selling traditional items like newspapers, magazines and stationery, you can offer a range of products that cater to your local market’s demographic. For example, if you are located near a train station, provide public transport tickets or prepaid mobile phone cards. Cards, gifts and party items are always popular purchases and innovations like competitively-priced coffee and fresh sandwiches can give your newsagency an edge.

You should also consider offering additional services which can transform your newsagency into a one-stop shop for various everyday activities. These services could include:

  • photocopying or faxing stations;
  • a money transfer facility;
  • lotteries sales;
  • post office services; or
  • tobacco sales.

You will need to obtain additional licences to offer some of these services, but they can be an attractive drawcard for customers, who prefer to obtain these services from smaller, more convenient stores rather than big retailers.

Employment Contracts

Your employees will be the face of your newsagency. Their personalised service will set your business apart from bigger supermarkets. So be mindful of who you employ. Ensure they have a friendly and customer-oriented approach.

Your employees will fall under the General Retail Industry Award, which covers matters like scheduling, leave entitlements and penalty rates. The Award will form the basis of your contract with your employee. Newsagencies may be allowed to trade on ‘restricted days’ like Good Friday or Christmas Day. You may have to pay penalty rates for any employees working on these days.

Supplier Contracts

When starting your newsagency, you will also need to enter into contracts with various suppliers or wholesalers who provide you with the newspapers, stationery, and other products you offer. A supply agreement details the agreement between you and a supplier. The agreement will cover:

  • what is to be delivered;
  • when it is to be delivered;
  • the payment price for the products you purchase; and
  • what happens in circumstances where one party does not meet their responsibilities.

It can be helpful to do research on other newsagencies or convenience stores. This will help you understand what terms and rates are standard.

It is a good idea to get legal advice when drafting or entering into contracts. A lawyer can help explain your rights and responsibilities clearly. This will prevent nasty surprises later on. It can also ensure your contracts are fair while helping you get the best deal possible.

Key Takeaways

Newsagencies often become a solid part of a community, conveniently nearby and open when you need them most. But starting your newsagency and running it will take a lot of planning and hard work, particularly in a marketplace dominated by e-commerce options. Finding the right location and the right mix of goods and services to offer will go a long way to attracting loyal and frequent customers. Having clear contracts in place with employees and suppliers will give you the peace of mind needed for long-term planning.

If you want help setting up your newsagency, or want a lawyer to review your contracts or licence applications, get in touch with LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Vaishnavi Prakash
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