Sales and profit surge at WH Smith as travel booms

WH Smith has revealed a jump in sales and profit (WH Smith/PA)
WH Smith has revealed a jump in sales and profit (WH Smith/PA)

Retail group WH Smith has revealed sales jumped by more than a quarter over the past year as it was boosted by the continued recovery of the travel industry and new openings.

The company said it also saw its profits almost double as it benefitted from a higher numbers of travellers at airports and train stations.

WH Smith reported a headline pre-tax profit of £143 million in the year to August 31, compared with £73 million a year earlier.

It highlighted the firm’s heightened focus on travel stores compared with traditional high street sites, with travel bringing in a £164 million trading profit compared with £32 million from its high street arm.

Group revenues for the year increased by 28% to £1.79 billion, as it was supported by a 36% increase in revenues through its UK travel business.

High street sales, however, fell over the year, dipping by 1% to £469 million.

Carl Cowling, group chief executive, said he was also “very pleased” as to the start of the financial year.

He said: “This has been another year of significant progress for the group.

“We have started the new financial year well with total revenue in travel UK up 13%, North America up 15%, and rest of world up 27%.

“With good trading and very positive prospects, despite the uncertainty in the economic environment, we are confident in the group’s outlook for the new financial year.”