Austen Shakespeare

WH Smith reports good performance over previous 20 weeks

Prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, WH Smith saw a consistent and encouraging recovery in key Travel markets.

In the High Street, the firm adapted well to the evolving trading environment and delivered a good performance, despite reduced footfall. For the 20 weeks to 15 January 2022, total Group revenue was 85 per cent of 2019 revenue for the period.

Also, the firm reports total revenue was at 87 per cent of 2019 revenue for the 20 week period, in line with our expectations.

WH Smith acquisitions funkypigeon.com, cultpens.com and the website whsmith.co.uk performed strongly over the 20 week period. Through peak periods, they maintained good stock availability and exited Christmas with a clean stock position.

As a result of trading performance, cash generation for the first 20 weeks was ahead of plan.At December 31 2021, access to liquidity was £345m being cash on deposit of £95m and the undrawn RCF of £250m.

Carl Cowling, group chief executive said:“We are pleased with the progress the Group has made in the period. In Travel, we have focused on our strategic objectives of increasing customer conversion, growing average transaction value and winning new space, all of which continue to deliver good results.

“We have now opened 16 of the recently won InMotion technology stores in UK airports and are pleased with their performance. Our strong track record of winning new tenders in the US continues, with a significant nine store win at Kansas airport.

“Our High Street business performed well, in line with our expectations, with our online businesses delivering strong performances.

“As we enter our 230th year since the Company’s founding in 1792, I would like to thank our entire team across the globe.”

Carl continued: “In particular, my thanks go to our store colleagues who have worked tirelessly over the past number of weeks throughout such a busy trading period. We have an exceptionally strong team at WH Smith and we look forward to building on the strong foundations we have in place.

“Looking ahead, although we are seeing a small impact from the Omicron variant, we anticipate a resumption in the recovery of our Travel markets over the coming months. We are well placed for the key trading period in Travel this summer and the ongoing recovery in our markets.”

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