WH Smith encouraged by first half performance
WH Smith has said it put in an encouraging performance in the first half of its financial year despite the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns.
In the six months to 28 February, group revenue dropped by 44% to £420 million as the retailer’s stores in travel locations were impacted by coronavirus restrictions with revenue falling by 65%. There was a smaller decline in WH Smith’s high street stores where sales reduced by 14%.
Pre-tax profit at the high street business came in at £33 million but the travel business posted a £31 million loss. This meant the retailer has reported a headline group loss of £17 million for the period.
Due to a better than expected first-half performance, WH Smith now expects the outturn for its full year to be modestly ahead of current expectations.
Carl Cowling, WH Smith chief executive, said: “Thanks to the outstanding work of all our colleagues across the business, the group has adapted well to the evolving trading environment and we are in a strong position as our markets begin to recover.”
The company is planning to open 100 new travel stores over the next three years, 60 of which will be in North America. The move will be funded by a £325 million bond offering.
Cowling added: “We are financially strong as a result of the actions we have taken, and the new financing arrangements also announced today will put us in an even stronger position to capitalise on the growth of our key markets and take advantage of the many exciting opportunities ahead.
“We are an important retail partner for our travel landlords and we are well positioned to take advantage of further space opportunities that will arise over the coming months.”
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