WH Smith isn’t planning to open any new high street stores
Book and stationery retailer WH Smith has said it is not planning to open any new UK high street stores as it looks to focus on shops in travel locations instead.
The retailer’s chief executive Carl Cowling told the BBC that adding to its 550-strong high street store estate “would just be a duplication”. Instead, the company will continue to launch shops at train stations and airports, particularly in the US where it has captured around 12% of the retail market at airports.
Cowling said “We’ve got a very healthy high street business in the UK. But we’ve got no ambitions to grow that. When you look at the main cities across England, Wales and Scotland, we are present in those cities.”
However, the company will still be investing in its stores on the high street and has recently announced the launch of nine shop-in-shops for Toys“R”Us this summer.
Speaking of the US expansion, Cowling told the BBC: “Our ambition is to get to 20% over the course of the next four years and then that will mean probably only the best parts of 150 stores.”
In 2018 WH Smith acquired In Motion, a retailer that sells digital accessories in US airports. Then in 2019 it added US travel retailer Marshall Retail Group to its portfolio.