Despite sustained pressure on consumer spending, books to stationery retailer WH Smith has said it will meet full year forecasts as its strategy to improve profit margins and save on costs continues to pay off for the company. In an announcement on Thursday, WH Smith said its high street business had continued to deliver a solid performance despite tough comparatives from the year before, when a busy publishing schedule made the second half of the fiscal year hard to beat.
British retailer WHSmith have announced that they have struck a deal with Russia’s railway stations to open stores selling newspapers, snacks and stationery. According to Russia business newspaper Kommersant, the franchise stores will be operated by Tsvetnoi Bulvar, the company owned by PNN Group.
WHSmith PLC on Thursday revealed total group sales in the 14 weeks to 3 March fell 5 per cent, while like-for-like sales dropped 6 per cent compared with the same time last year. Despite WHSmith’s investment in the travel side of its business across the last few quarters, total sales at airports, stations and motorway service stations were flat, with like-for-like sales falling 4 per cent for the period.
Pretax profits rose 5 per cent in WH Smith’s first half, as reduced costs helped to offset a fall in sales. The books to stationery retailer on Thursday revealed pretax profit rose to £69 million in the 6 months to 28 February. Total group sales on a like-for-like basis fell 5 per cent although by cutting costs, the retailer was able to improve its gross margin by 160 basis points.
WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann, who will step down from her position next summer after 10 years, collected £3.3 million in salary and long term share payouts this year. According to a report by the Guardian citing the company’s annual report, Swann could also be in line for another £2.6 million pay-out thanks to long-term incentive plans.
WHSmith is this week expected to announce profits rose 9 per cent to £101 million for the year, as the retailer continued to perform against the odds of a turbulent high street. The newsagent will reveal on Thursday that profits in the year to August will pass the £100 million profit mark for the first time since chief executive Kate Swann was drafted in to revamp the business nine years ago.
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