March 18, 2018

WH Smith profit up; to start £50 mln share buyback

12 October 2017, 03:51 | Silvia Roy

High street sales have been overshadowed by the retailer's travel business

High street sales have been overshadowed by the retailer's travel business

Group pre-tax profit grew 7% to £140mln compared to £131mln a year ago.

WH Smith generated higher sales from its travel shops than its high street stores for the first time in its 225-year history on the back of a surge in tourists splurging on Union Jack souvenirs and worldwide growth.

The travel and high-street retailer posted a pretax profit of GBP140 million for the 12 months ending August 31, compared with GBP131 million the year before.

Pre-tax profits rose 7pc to £140m during the year.

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WH Smith said it is targeting a further £9mln of cost savings for the next financial year.

Revenue has also increased to £1.23bn, up from £1.21bn the year before.

The final dividend was increased by 10 per cent to take the year's total payout to 48.2p a share. "The transition has been managed deftly, with the High Street sustaining profits despite falling sales, and the group is now not only present in practically every major United Kingdom travel hub, but operating in airports around the world".

He added the high street stores had managed to match record profits from the year earlier, when the adult colouring craze was in full swing.

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This has come as the travel chain has grown consistently - boosted most recently by surging numbers of foreign travellers looking to take advantage of the weak pound, as well as rising numbers of United Kingdom passengers.

He said: "With travel becoming the major contributor to group performance, these results mark an important milestone for WH Smith".

WH Smith said that its decision to buy back up to GBP50 million worth of shares reflects its cash generation and confidence in its future prospects.

Looking ahead, we will focus on profitable growth, cash generation and new opportunities to profitably invest in the future.

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"While the economic environment remains uncertain, we are well positioned for the current year and beyond".

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