British retailing group WH Smith Plc, which operates a chain of, high street, railway station, airport, port, hospital and motorway service station shops selling books, stationery, magazines, newspapers and entertainment products, revealed on Wednesday that it plans to relocate a further 61 Post Offices to WHSmith high street stores under a new ten year commercial deal with Post Office Limited (POL).
According to WH Smith, it has successfully run Post Offices and improved service levels for its customers since 2006. The company currently operate 107 Post Offices and will add the new Post Offices over the next 12 months either as franchises or run by POL under a concession arrangement.
The BBC reported that the plans to move the branches include some of the 39 directly-run Crown branches which the Post Office announced it would franchise in January.
Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells was quoted as saying: “We know that people place huge importance on the presence of a Post Office branch on their High Street.
“Our collaboration with WH Smith will help to secure this, as well as bring new investment into the network.”
Roger Gale, general manager of the Post Office’s Crown branch network, added that WH Smith franchises had improved customer service and brought benefits, with most open Saturday afternoons and Sundays.
WH Smith also reported a good first half to its High Street division fiscal year, with an increase of 6% in trading profit to GBP53m, compared to GBP50m in the same period last year. The improved performance was said to be driven by the performance in the five weeks to 2 January 2016 when LFL sales were up 2%. This period saw good sales performance for stationery, particularly new product development and in some of the company’s seasonal categories, as well as the continued success of the company’s ‘colour therapy’ titles.
Group chief executive of WH Smith, Stephen Clarke, commented: “The Group has delivered a strong first half with both our Travel and High Street businesses performing well.
“In High Street, the flat like-for-like sales – our best performance for many years – were driven by a very strong performance of seasonal products over the key five week Christmas period.
“Stationery sales were particularly strong, driven by investment in new product ranges and both our Stationery and Books business continue to benefit from strong sales in adult activity books, such as colour therapy, extreme dot-to-dot and querkles.”
Clarke added “In March we announced our new exclusive Book Club for young adults headed by the UK’s most popular vlogger and bestselling author, Zoe Sugg. The “Zoella Book Club? will help us to further strengthen our position in a key part of the market.
“The strong performance is only possible through the hard work of the entire team in all parts of our business. I am very grateful for their support.
“Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in the business to position us well for the future.”