WH Smith, the nation’s favourite stationer, reports good recovery

WH Smith

The Swindon headquartered stationer WH Smith has reported a good start to the financial year and says it is “well positioned to return to meaningful profit in 2022”.

It says there are improving trends in travel retail over recent months, with its total travel revenue at 84 per cent of October 2019.

It also says it is in a strong position to benefit from growth opportunities with more than 100 new stores won and planned to open in travel over the next three years with 58 in North America and it has won all 30 technology stores across UK airports. Its InMotion brand is now the global leader in this category in travel locations with further growth opportunities.

The stationer has reported a good recovery in North America. Trading profit of £6 million and significant new business wins at major US airports.

It made a high street trading profit of £19 million with good cash generation and reported a record performance from funkypigeon.com, the online card business it acquired in 2010.

The company reported a headline loss before tax and non-underlying items of £55 million reflecting global travel restrictions.

Carl Cowling, Group Chief Executive, said: “The Group has delivered a good performance in the evolving trading environment. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of all our colleagues across the business, we have continued to adapt successfully to the changing environment and we are now in a strong position to grow our business as our markets continue to recover, returning to meaningful profitability in the current financial year.

“In Travel UK, we are delighted to have won all 30 of the technology stores across UK airports. This is a significant win for the Group and we look forward to showcasing the very best of our US brand, InMotion, in these locations. These latest wins mean InMotion is now the largest technology retailer in travel locations in the world, and we see plenty more opportunity to grow the brand globally.

“In addition to the InMotion stores in the UK, we have a very strong pipeline of new store openings with over 100 stores already won and due to open in Travel over the next three years – the majority of these in North America. We expect more space to become available as our markets recover and we are very well positioned to benefit from these opportunities.

“Despite the challenges of the UK high street, more generally, our High Street business has delivered a resilient and profitable performance. Our online businesses have delivered strong growth in the year, including a record performance from funkypigeon.com.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire team for their outstanding contribution in another challenging year. We have made excellent progress and none of this would be possible without their hard work and commitment.

“We are a financially strong and resilient Group with significant opportunities to grow. While we continue to plan with caution, the Group is well positioned to capitalise on the recovery in our key markets and take advantage of the many exciting opportunities ahead.”