High Street

WH Smith sales rocket as travel rebounds

As a percentage of 2019, revenues in its Travel business rocketed by 123%, while its High Street business traded at 79% of 2019 levels

WH Smith has seen sales soar ahead of pre-pandemic levels in recent weeks as travel continues to rebound. 

Group revenues in the 15 weeks to 11 June 2022 were ahead of 2019 levels for the first time at 107%, with a particularly strong performance seen in its Travel business. As a percentage of 2019, revenues at its Travel business rocketed to 123%, while its High Street business traded at 79% of 2019 levels. 

The group noted its UK business is performing strongly in particular. As passenger numbers recover and airports see more footfall, it has seen strong ATV growth and higher penetration in the region. This was in part driven by its aim to “significantly enhance” its ranges and develop its categories, such as health and beauty and technology.

In addition, its recently opened InMotion stores across UK airports were said to be “performing well”. In the 15 weeks to 11 June 2022, Travel UK total revenue was at 104% versus 2019, and by channel in the UK, air was 114%, hospitals were 102% and rail was 87% compared to 2019 levels.

The group also welcomed “strong momentum” in its North American business, with total revenue during the 15 week period at 111% of 2019 levels. TSA (Transportation Security Administration) data recorded passenger numbers for the month of May at around 90% of 2019 levels. The group also won further stores in the region over the period, including four stores at Chicago O’Hare airport. 

In its latest trading update, the retailer said: “While the broader global economy remains uncertain, the group is well positioned to capitalise on the ongoing recovery in our key markets and take advantage of the many opportunities ahead, including the 125 new stores won and yet to open, and our new store formats and category development across multiple geographies. 

“Travel continues to perform strongly across all three divisions and we expect this to be maintained into the peak summer trading period. As a result, we now anticipate the full year outturn to be at the higher end of analysts’ expectations.” 

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