May 1, 2009 By Nicola Harrison reporting in Retail News
WH Smith is contemplating further overseas expansion of its travel business by opening in more foreign airports.
The retailer, which last week revealed a better than expected 5 per cent dip in first-half profits, is considering adding to its existing international airport stores in Copenhagen and Shannon, Ireland, which it opened this year.
Sources close to the retailer said it is “very early days” for these shops and that WHSmith is “trialling different ways of running its stores”.
It is thought the retailer is examining the cost and potential of opening stores more widely in Europe, as well as outside the continent, although any expansion would be small scale to begin with. In the second half, WHSmith plans to open a further 24 travel stores and six high street stores in the UK.
Gross margin improved 170 basis points. Half the margin growth came from the retailer’s continued focus on stationery, books, newspapers and magazines while shifting away from entertainment products, which slumped 33 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
WHSmith chief executive Kate Swann said: “Our markets remain challenging. However, we have planned accordingly and are confident in the outcome for the year.”