WH Smith to open 120 stores worldwide after sales rocketed after post-Covid travel demand

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WHSmith will focus on expansions within airports and train stations as part of a global expansion

WH Smith is planning to open 120 shops globally following an increase in sales after the easing of Covid travel restrictions. The stationery retailer has released plans for a global expansion that will focus more on their travel stores including at airports and railway shop stations.

Profits for WH Smith have more than doubled after a resurgence of travel demands helped sales boom in their travel stores. It has been confirmed that it will move attention towards expanding its travel sector instead of focusing on its traditional high street stores.

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The UK travel business saw its sales jump to £314 million, two-thirds higher than the same period a year ago. Carl Cowling, boss at WH Smith, hailed ‘strong’ current trading for the company, telling shareholders that performance was ‘ahead of expectations for the full year.’

WH Smith has since confirmed that out of the 120 new store expansion, 15 new stores will open across the UK, but the company is yet to confirm the locations of the retail spaces. However, the stationary giant has confirmed that a large focus of the expansion will focus on its North American business.

In its latest figures for the last six months, WH Smith said group revenues had increased by 41% to £859 million compared with the same period last year. As a result, the pre-tax profits rose to £45 million from £18 million in the previous half-year.

WH Smith also benefited from a strong resurgence in passenger numbers after the easing of previous Covid travel restrictions. The stationery retailer saw its travel business sales rocket, making it the firm’s largest division.

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Bosses of WH Smith, which has been a feature of many UK high streets since 1792 has said its growing travel arm is set to represent over 70% of all revenues by the end of the year, including 85% of its profits.

When discussing expanding the business globally, WH Smith said: “We still have a very strong pipeline of new store openings.

WH Smith is set to open 120 new stores worldwideWH Smith is set to open 120 new stores worldwide
WH Smith is set to open 120 new stores worldwide | chrisdorney - stock.adobe.com

“So far this year, we have won an additional 28 stores, including 11 stores in Canada, across Calgary and Edmonton airports, as well as further stores in Oakland, Palm Springs, Washington Reagan and Las Vegas airports.”

WH Smith chief executive, Carl Cowling, said: “We have seen a strong performance in the first half of the year, further strengthening our confidence in the prospects of our global travel business.

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“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.Current trading is strong and we are ahead of expectations for the full year.”

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