WH Smith boosted by profit rebound
WH Smith has been boosted by a profit rebound in the first half of its financial year as it looks ahead to capitalising on its ongoing recovery.
In the six months to 28 February, the book and stationery retailer posted a headline profit before tax and non-underlying items of £14 million compared to a loss £19 million in the previous year.
Total revenue was also up, climbing by 45% to £608 million year-on-year after sales at its travel business rose by 125% to £338 million, although UK high street sales were flat at £270 million.
Meanwhile, its travel and high street businesses made trading profits of £10 million and £26 million respectively.
Carl Cowling, WH Smith group chief executive, said: “The group has delivered a good performance with a strong rebound in profitability. We have seen a recovery across all our travel markets despite the impact of the Omicron variant in Q2, and we are in a strong position to capture growth as the recovery continues.”
“Across the globe, we continue to roll out our travel stores across all our formats. Since the start of the financial year, we have won 74 stores, including a significant tender win in Spain, bringing the total pipeline to over 125 stores. We expect more space to become available, particularly in North America, as our markets continue to recover.”
During the period, WH Smith launched 28 new technology stores in the UK under its InMotion brand, including a recently opened flagship store at Heathrow Terminal 5. Outside of the US and the UK, the retailer has opened and won a further 11 InMotion stores across six countries as it looks ahead to growing the brand globally.
WH Smith said its UK high street business put in a resilient performance despite retail challenges in the UK. It also revealed that total travel revenue in the eight weeks to 23 April 2022 stood at 114% of 2019.
Looking ahead, Cowling said: “We continue to invest in the business where we see attractive growth opportunities and have positioned the group well to benefit from the return of passenger numbers. We have improved the scale and footprint of the business and are operationally stronger than prior to the pandemic. While there are some uncertainties in the broader global economy, the group is well positioned to capitalise on the ongoing recovery in our key markets and take advantage of the many opportunities ahead.”