WH Smith reports strong first half driven by travel rebound

News, books and stationery retailer WH Smith plc has reported a strong performance ahead of expectations for the first half of its financial year.

Group revenue for the six months to 28 February 2023 was up 41% to £859m, boosted by the return of global air travel.

Pre-tax profit grew to £45m, from £18m in the same period last year.

WH Smith said that during the period it saw strong momentum across its global travel retail business — encompassing its stores in airports and other transport hubs — as passenger numbers recovered after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

Travel is expected to represent over 70% of group revenue and around 85% of group profit from trading operations by the end of this financial year, according to chief executive Carl Cowling.

In its high street stores, WH Smith saw a small drop in first-half profit as the cost of living crisis impacted consumer spending habits.

“Looking ahead, we are very well positioned to capitalise on the substantial growth drivers across our markets and we expect to make further good progress in the years ahead,” Cowling added. “Current trading is strong and we are ahead of expectations for the full year.”

WH Smith join forces with Kobo to provide ‘biggest eBook catalague in the UK’

High street giant WH Smiths revealed a strategic partnership with Canadian eBook supplier Kobo.

 

WH Smith have agreed a distribution deal that will see it become a seller of electronic readers for the first time – sold in store and online.

 

This will give UK customers access to the largest eBook catalogue through the deal which will supply 2.2million titles and one million free books.

 

WH Smiths will be selling two visions of Kobo’s electronic reader, the book seller has stated the move will compliment its traditional print book business.

 

 

The book giant has also reported an increase of 4 per cent in profits in the year to August 31. The company has also increased its annual dividend to 22.5p (16%).

 

 

Although book sales have fallen 4 per cent, the travel business has seen record profits from stores mostly situated in airports and railways.

 

The business has made £14 million savings from its high street stores, mainly from better energy use, new technology and increasing supply chain efficiently. More savings are planned for the next two years, a further £11 million.