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WH Smith shares rise as travel boom boosts sales

The travel boom has far-reaching benefits, and the propensity for holidaymakers to spend freely on holidays and their holiday experience has helped increase WH Smith sales.

WH Smith’s UK travel unit sales rose 9% in the 13 weeks to 1 June as the business transitions to being a ‘one-stop-shop’ for travel essentials for which it can charge a premium.

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Anyone who has reluctantly bought a bottle of water from WH Smith at an airport will have a good idea of the company’s strategy. WH Smith has successfully placed stores in locations where potential customers have little option but to pay the higher price they demand. In addition to airports, WH Smith has targeted rail terminals, where sales rose 8%, and hospitals. Hospital sales surged 14%.

North American sales grew 3% while Rest of the World jumped 15%.

In the UK High Street division, which includes online sales, total revenue was down 4% for the 13 weeks ending June 1, 2024. However, the store network performed well, with LFL revenue flat compared to the same period last year.

Five new Toys “R” Us shop-in-shops have been successfully opened within existing stores and plans are in place to open an additional 25 shop-in-shops by the end of the financial year.

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“What’s really interesting is how WH Smith is helping to revive the Toys R Us brand. It is slowly converting parts of its UK stores to house sections dedicated to toys under this retro name and it looks like the strategy is paying off,” said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

The company has maintained guidance for the year and says it is well positioned for the peak summer trading period.

WH Smith shares were 3% higher at the time of writing on Wednesday.

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