WH Smith trading update: Airport sales keeps retailer’s shares aloft
Airport passengers shopping for a holiday read helped boost WH Smith in the 12 months to the end of August, it said today, as it delivered a trading update on its full-year results.
The retailer, voted the UK’s worst high street store earlier this summer, teased its latest results ahead of their official release on 11 October.
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It credited its air-side stores in 48 airports with performing “strongly” and delivering solid sales as it focused on the international market, eyeing opportunities for expansion.
Opening eight new stores in Madrid-Barajas Airport Terminal 4 and the first of six new shops in Rio de Janeiro in mid-August, WH Smith now counts 286 stores worldwide.
Its high street business performance simply met expectations, with WH Smith cutting costs to shave margins as it expands its stationery ranges. Its last results outlined plans to save £5m from its high street business in the second half of its financial year, after cutting £7m in the six months to February.
Results for the year to the end of August should be in line with predictions, the retailer said.
“WH Smith kept its fourth quarter trading update brief but managed to say everything the market wanted to hear,” said Lee Wild, head of equity strategy at Interactive Investor.
“Despite a lack of detail, we do know that the important travel business is still growing fast, is opening new stores, and that cost cuts have improved margins at the high street chain.”
Shares were up half a per cent to £20.60 in early morning trading, down from a £23 high in January.
Wild added: “Smiths’ share price has come off the boil this year but is still not cheap. A deeper dive on the business and a forward-looking statement at the full-year results in October could be the catalyst for further gains.”
The retailer came out bottom in consumer rights publication Which?’s poll of high street shops in May, with readers slamming its store standards and its customer service.
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