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WH Smith sales edge up as shops in airports, train stations and motorway services carry floundering high street stores

Retailer WH Smith has reported a two per cent sales increase in the first quarter of this year due to the success of its shops in airports, train stations and motorway services.

Sales across the newsagent’s 750 outlets at transport hubs rose eight percent, including a two per cent boost from the weak pound on revenues at overseas stores.

This offset falling sales on the high street as same-store sales fell four per cent from March 1 to June 10, leaving like-for-like sales flat.

Retailer WH Smith sales rose two per cent in the first quarter of this year due to the success of its shops in airports, train stations and motorway services

Shares in the company are trading up 1.4 per cent at 1,768p following the update.

WH Smith said rising passenger numbers have helped push travel sales higher, while it has also been benefiting from expansion efforts.

It is on target to open 15 UK travel outlets this year, with more planned internationally including six in Rome due to open next month.

The group continues to focus on profits and cost cutting at its high street business and said the sales fall was expected, although it marks a steeper decline against the 3 per cent drop seen in the first half.

Sales across the newsagent’s 750 outlets at transport hubs rose eight percent during the period

WH Smith said: ‘Whilst there remains some uncertainty with regard to the broader economic environment, we continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in the business to position us well for the future. We remain confident in the outcome for the full year.’

‘Another strong update with good Travel momentum going into peak summer trading and high street performing in line with expectations,’ noted Investec analyst Kate Calvert.

‘[The]Travel unit announced the win of 6 directly run units in Rome, which supports our view that WH Smith is increasingly becoming a play on international travel retail with an attractive proven model.’

‘Our forecasts are maintained with risk on the upside. We increase our target price to 2100p from 1900p as we roll forward a year. We reiterate our Buy,’ she added.