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WH Smith Bets On North America, Travel Recovery To Boost Growth

By Donna Ahern
WH Smith Bets On North America, Travel Recovery To Boost Growth

WH Smith is betting on new store openings in North America and the ongoing travel recovery in Asia and Europe to lift growth in the coming year, the British airport retailer's top boss recently said.

Leisure and business travel have rebounded since pandemic restrictions ended, boosting sales at transit locations.

Consumers ready to splurge their savings on travel, are also prepared to pay for paperback novels or treats to make their trips more enjoyable.

The group - which runs stores in airports and train stations, selling everything from books and sandwiches to Bluetooth headphones - has not seen an impact on footfall amid cost-of-living pressures, CEO Carl Cowling said in an interview.

WH Smith also plans to open another 50 stores in the fast-growing North America region over the next 12 months.


Revenue Increase

For the first nine weeks of the current financial year, the company's revenue in North America was up 15%, while UK sales have grown 13%.

"The Asian travel market is still down quite significantly, and Europe and UK is down too, so there's still a lot of growth from passenger numbers and a broader travel recovery would not fully happen until probably the middle of next year," Cowling said.

The high-street retailer reported a pre-tax profit of £143 million for the year ended 31 August, compared with analysts' expectations of £142.9 million, according to a company-compiled consensus.

"The upswing in footfall at train stations and in airports has brought brisk business, offsetting weakness in the company's more traditional shopping locations," said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.


Read More: WH Smith's Full-Year Revenue Jumps 28% As Travel Booms

News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more Retail stories, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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