WH Smith has said its high street arm has been impacted by a cyber security issue with its greetings cards business, denting sales.
The stationery seller said its high street business was performing in line with expectations.
Sales stood at 80 per cent of 2019 revenue for the 26 weeks to 27 August 2022, following disruption to the online retailer funkypigeon.
In an update on the London Stock Exchange earlier this year, the retail giant said orders from the website were temporarily suspended after an incident on Thursday 14 April.
Customer payment data, including bank account or credit card details, was not placed at risk.
Airport and railway sales pushed the company’s travel unit into sales well beyond pre-pandemic levels, with 129 per cent of 2019 levels.
Travel shops have continued to benefit from the return of passenger numbers at transport hubs, despite disruption to holidaymakers’ plans this year in the way of cancelled flights and delays.
Total group revenue rested at 112 per cent of 2019 levels for the same 26 week period.
WH Smith’s share price dipped five per cent on Wednesday morning and has sunk more than 10 per cent in the past year.
Chaos across airports this summer may have actually “played into WH Smith’s hands,” Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said:
“Many of the flight cancellations were last-minute, meaning would-be passengers suddenly faced hours in airports and turned to the company for refreshments, as well as reading material,” she added.
“One key question for WH Smith is how its high street stores survive. Beyond its newspapers, magazines and books, the chain is notoriously expensive for other items and fighting against discounters who are often on the same street.”
Its high street arm would “continue to focus on cost efficiencies and the return on space,” amid inflationary pressures, the company said on Wednesday.
It had identified “further significant cost saving opportunities”, particularly with reductions in rent.