WH Smith travel sales boosted by tourists splurging on souvenirs

Henrietta Strickland
October 12, 2017

Shares in the stationary and books supplier fell 2.2% to 2,025p in early trading before recovering slightly to 2,062p.

The listed retailer posted a pre-tax profit of £140m for the year to 31 August 2017, up from £131m in 2015/16. Trading profit at the division rose by 10 per cent to £96 million.

WH Smith has 611 high street stores, having closed three over the financial year.

Its travel business is performing particularly well, WH Smith said.

And today the company announced that revenue for its 815 shops across train stations and airport terminals has trumped high street sales for the very first time. Profit in Travel is up 10% to £96m, now over 60% of Group trading profit. Group revenue was up 5.6% to £453.4m while adjusted profit before tax was £32.2m, up 1.8% year-on-year.

Commenting on the results, Stephen Clarke, Group Chief Executive, said: "We have delivered a good performance across the Group".

He said: "With travel becoming the major contributor to group performance, these results mark an important milestone for WH Smith".

This has come as the travel chain has grown consistently - boosted most recently by surging numbers of foreign travellers looking to take advantage of the weak pound, as well as rising numbers of United Kingdom passengers.

The board has also proposed a 10 per cent hike to the final dividend, and announced a further share buyback of up to £50m. It follows the completion of a £41mln share buyback announced in October 2016.

WH Smith said that its decision to buy back up to GBP50 million worth of shares reflects its cash generation and confidence in its future prospects.

Free cash flow came to £105mln, down from £108mln previous year, as the company invested in its store opening programme.

Looking ahead, we will focus on profitable growth, cash generation and new opportunities to profitably invest in the future.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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