WH Smith to restructure high street stores business
Book and stationery retailer WH Smith has said it will restructure its high street stores business following a detailed review.
Whilst announcing its preliminary results, the retailer said it has decided to increase its focus on its core categories, wind down its trial Cardmarket and WH Smith Local initiatives, restructure some operational activities, and close around six high street shops.
Stephen Clarke, WH Smith chief executive, said: “We had a good year in high street despite the well documented challenges of the UK high street.
“During an encouraging second half, the business traded well and we quickly identified the latest trend in the market, becoming a one-stop-shop for all slime related products.
“Despite this good performance, we are not ignoring the broader challenges on the UK high street and, during the second half, we conducted a business review to ensure our High Street business is fit for purpose now and for the future.”
In the year to 31 August, group profit before tax decreased by 4% to £134 million, reflecting some non-underlying items primarily from the business review of the high street stores. Revenue rose by 2% to £1.262 billion although like-for-like sales were flat.
The high street business saw its trading profit reduce to £60 million from £62 million in the previous year. Total revenue and like-for-like sales both declined by 3%.
The group’s travel business, which includes stores at airports and railway stations, saw its revenue climb by 8% with like-for-like sales rising by 3%. Trading profit increased by 7% to £103 million which includes £11 million from WH Smith’s growing international business. Travel now represents 63% of group profit from trading operations. During the year the business opened 20 new units in the UK to take the total number of UK stores to 581.
Clarke added: “Travel accounts for over half our sales and two thirds of our profits and continues to perform strongly with revenue growth of 8% in the year. This performance has been driven by our ongoing investment in stores and growth in passenger numbers.”
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