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WH Smith posts 5% rise in pretax profits as travel business steams ahead Thursday, 11th April 2013
Photo credit: WH Smith PLC
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.
Speaking at her last results announcement before standing down in July, WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann said the company expected the trading environment to remain challenging, “however the business is in good shape and is well positioned for continued growth in both the UK and internationally.”
Having up taken the position of chief executive in 2003, Swann is largely credited with turning around the chain, which has in recent years focused on expanding the travel operations branch of its business. For the first half of the year WH Smith posted a 7 per cent rise in profits at its airports, railway stations and motor services outlets, while its high street sales grew just 2 per cent in the same six months.
Steve Clarke, WH Smith’s current managing director of high street is now set to take over from Swann as chief executive on 1 July.
WH Smith chief Kate Swann collects £3.3m in final year at the top Tuesday, 11th December 2012
Photo credit: WH Smith
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.
It’s not yet known what Swann will choose to do after stepping down next summer, although it’s likely many retailers will be keen to have the businesswoman on board after orchestrating the turnaround of WH Smith that lead to 10 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to£102 million for the company in the year to August
Against the odds, WHSmith smashes £100m profit Monday, 8th October 2012
Photo credit: WHSmith
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.
After the success of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy boosting summer reads and WHSmith’s new focus on expanding in airports and railway stations, Swann is expected to map out further plans for international expansion on Thursday.
American Greetings and WHSmith circle Clinton Cards Friday, 11th May 2012
Clinton Cards, which recently collapsed into administration, is reportedly being courted by American Greetings, WHSmith and Card Factory.
The failed greeting cards retailer is worth around £8 – 10 million to American Greetings, who bought £40 million of Clinton Cards’ debt from the retailer’s main lenders Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays.
At this stage, it is believed that American Greetings may emerge as the owner of a new, downsized Clinton Cards. The number of stores is expected to fall from 750 to 350 if the deal goes ahead.
WHSmith, Card Factory and OpCapita are also said to be interested in Clinton Cards.
WHSmith unveils new social networking e-reader Wednesday, 23rd November 2011
The book group is about to get an overhaul as WHSmith releases a new e-reader that connects readers of the same book through Facebook and Twitter.
Long gone are the fusty days of village hall book meetings. The retailer’s new Kobo Vox, touch screen, colour WiFi eReader allows readers to write reviews, leave comments and start conversations all shared in real-time with users across Facebook and Twitter.
WHSmith now hopes the Kobo Vox, which allows access to 2.2 million titles and can hold up to 32,000, will complement the WiFi-enabled Kobo Touch, which it launched in October. The Kobo Vox also allows full access to more than 15,000 free apps for Android phones.
WHSmith business unit director for books Rachel Russell said: “We’re really pleased with the way customers have responded to the Kobo eReaders and accessories in our stores and we’re delighted to be the first UK retailer to offer customers a product as innovative as the new Kobo Vox.”
‘Resilient’ WHSmith’s like-for-likes drop 6% Thursday, 10th November 2011
The bookseller saw a 6 per cent fall in like-for-like sales in the 10 weeks to 1 September, with total group sales down 3 per cent.
WHSmith’s travel arm saw a similar result with like-for-likes down 4 per cent for the period. Total sales were flat.
“Whilst the current climate continues to be challenging, we remain a resilient business and are well positioned for continued profitable growth.” WHSmith said in light of the results.
At the group’s high street business like-for-likes stumbled 6 per cent, whilst total sales came down by 5 per cent.
WHSmith said: “We continue to focus on delivering our strategy to rebalance the mix of our business towards our core categories.
“We have made further progress on gross margin and costs continue to be tightly managed.”
WHSmith closed by saying its financial position “is in line with expectations”.
WH Smith strategy pays off, as profits up 4.5% Thursday, 13th October 2011
Expecting the worst has paid off for the books, magazine and stationery retailer, as it posted a 4.5 per cent rise in year profit to 31 August.
By cutting costs and improving margins instead of driving top line sales, WH Smith was apparently able to tackle yet another year of dire trading, reporting a pretax profit of £93 million for the year.
"The economic conditions remain challenging, however we have planned accordingly," Chief Executive Kate Swann said on Thursday.
The results compare with analysts’ average forecast of £93.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters data, and the £89 million in made in 2009-10.
WH Smith, which trades from over 580 high street stores and more than 530 outlets at airports, train stations, hospitals, motorway service stations and work places said sales fell 3 per cent to £1.27 billion.
Sales at stores open over a year fell 5 per cent but gross margin improved by 150 basis points year-on-year.
WHSmith launches a second share buy-back scheme Wednesday, 31st August 2011
WHSmith is set to run another £50 million share buy-back scheme this year following the success of the previous programme.
The retailer has said that it will repurchase shares on a flexible basis “in light of current market conditions” and the programme will be managed by a third party.
Investec analyst David Jeary has commented that the decision to buy back shares shows confidence in the retailer’s ongoing cash generating capabilities.
WHSmith opens trio of Funky Pigeon stores Thursday, 25th August 2011
Leeds City Station opened last week, closely followed by Liverpool Street Station in London yesterday.
Charing Cross Station was the first to open at the end of June. Until now Funky Pigeon has been a purely internet-based business which stands in direct competition to Moon Pig.
The trio of trial stores cover between 250 square feet and 550 square feet. Each store offers an extensive range of stationery and greeting cards alongside access to Funky Pigeon's personalized online offer via in-store tablets.
WHSmith on track for full year results Wednesday, 24th August 2011
Ahead of the retailer’s preliminary results, WHSmith has said it expects full year figures to be in line with market expectations.
In a pre close statement the books and stationery chain said its travel business “continues its good performance and is making further progress in winning new business in the international channel”.
WHSmith said: “Both businesses remain highly cash generative. Accordingly WHSmith expects the outcome for the year to August 31 to be in line with market expectations.”
The retailer took the opportunity to announce the departure of Simon Marinker, managing director of the chain’s travel arm, who will retire in December after 34 years at the business. Chief operating officer of travel business Simon Smith will replace Marinker, reporting directly to chief executive Kate Swann.
WHSmith will publish its preliminary results for the year ending 31 August on Thursday 13 October.