Apr 28, 2021

WHSmith raises cash as recovery hopes grow

Stationery and travel chain WHSmith is raising more than £300m as it looks to extend debt maturities and expand its travel business following the Covid-19 pandemic. The FTSE 250 group generated more than half of sales and profits from its stores in airports, train stations, hospitals and motorway service areas before the pandemic struck, and expects sales to recover to 2019 levels within the next two to three years. Carl Cowling, group chief executive, said the terms of the new stores reflected uncertainty about the pace of recovery. In its latest full financial year, the FTSE 250 group made a headline loss of £69m. Online card ordering service Funkypigeon.com had a record year and Cowling said the group had "Really aggressive plans that could make this a significantly bigger business over the next three years". WHSmith shares closed little changed, though they have more than doubled from the multiyear lows reached last year.

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