WH Smith revenue down 85% during coronavirus crisis
Book and stationery retailer WH Smith has said the coronavirus crisis has had a significant impact on its business due to many of its worldwide stores being closed due to lockdowns.
In its interim results statement, the retailer said group revenue was down 85% in April on the same month last year after sales at its travel and high street stores dropped by 91% and 74% respectively. However, online sales surged by 400% in the period.
Carl Cowling, WH Smith group chief executive, said: “The emergence of covid-19 and the associated global pandemic has affected all of us in ways that were unimaginable only a short while ago.
“Our primary focus over the past eight weeks has been to protect our colleagues across all areas of our business and our customers.”
In the six months to 29 February, WH Smith’s total revenue climbed by 7% to £747 million, although group pre-tax profit declined to £63 million from £65 million in the same period in the previous year.
Cowling said: “There was very little impact of covid-19 on our first half results, however inevitably the performance in the second half will be very different.
“During the first half, we continued to see strong sales growth in our travel business with total revenue up 19%, driven by our ongoing investment and initiatives in our UK business and our growing international businesses.”
The company said plans are on track for a phased re-opening of its stores in its second half when it will focus on driving spend per passenger across its travel locations.
Cowling added: “We are a resilient and versatile business and with the operational actions we have taken including managing costs and the new financing arrangements, we are in a strong position to navigate this time of uncertainty and are well positioned to benefit in due course from the normalisation and growth of our key markets.”
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