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WH Smith Returns To Profit, Flags Impact From Ukraine Crisis

British retailer WH Smith reported a profit for the half-year on Wednesday, following a recovery in sales at its travel stores, although the company warned of rising shipping costs due to the Ukraine conflict.

WH Smith, which has stores in travel hubs and sells everything from books and sandwiches to Bluetooth headphones, said revenue from its travel business was at 114% of pre-pandemic levels in the eight weeks to 23 April.

Sales Rebound 

British retailers, including WH Smith, are seeing a rebound in sales driven by outbound leisure travel, but are now navigating lower consumer spending, rising inflation and supply chain issues.

The London-listed company also said it does not have operations in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus, but it could take a hit from rising costs of shipping goods.

It now aims to rein in costs after having restructured its cost base amid the recovery.

WH Smith posted a headline group profit before tax and non-underlying items of £14 million ($17.6 million) for the six months ended 28 February, compared with a loss of £19 million a year earlier.

Recovery 'Expected'

On the 19 January, WH Smith had forecasted that it expected a resumption in the recovery of its travel markets over the coming months, although the retailer added that the firm was experiencing a "small impact" from the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The company, which sells books, stationery and other items at its stores in travel hubs, said revenue for the 20 weeks to 15 January was 85% of the sales during the corresponding period in 2019.

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

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