Nov 12, 2020
WHSmith points to ‘steady recovery’ on high street despite loss
WHSmith said it had seen a "Steady recovery" in its UK high street business, as the retailer reported a smaller-than-expected annual loss. The group, which is also heavily exposed to the slump in air travel because of the large number of outlets it has in airports, fell to a pre-tax loss of £69m in the year to the end of August. Chief executive Carl Cowling, whose first year in the job has been dominated by Covid-19, said that while airport passenger numbers continued to be significantly affected by the pandemic in the UK, North America was "Beginning to see some encouraging signs of recovery". The US aviation market, where WHSmith expanded last year with a $400m deal for retail group Marshalls, is driven by domestic rather than international flights and so subject to fewer travel restrictions. Mr Cowling added that there had been "a steady recovery" in its UK high street business, where stores are largely run to generate cash rather than increase sales.
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