Gifts Today magazine

Stationery sales up for WHSmith

UK-based retailer saw stationery sales rise 2% on a like-for-like basis in the six months to 28 February 2017

Stationery performed especially well over Christmas driven by strong sales from new seasonal product ranges. The category was also boosted as space changes included extending the stationery range and providing more, better quality space towards the front of stores.

WH Smith confirmed that a trial to move seasonal stationery to the front of stores worked well and as a result, this space has been left in the majority of those retail outlets to assess the impact out of peak trading periods.

Sales at its 613 retail stores fell 4% to £354 million ($442 million) while profit remained flat at £53 million, but profit at its locations in airports, railway stations and service stations was up 10% on last year to £39 million. The group said it planned to open a further 15 travel units across the UK.

Total group sales were flat on a like-for-like basis at £643 million, while pre-tax profit rose 4% to £83 million.

Sales of ‘colour therapy’ books fell significantly as last year’s craze gave way to the trend for ‘spoof books’ which was a key sales driver.

2017 is a significant year for WH Smith as it celebrates its 225th anniversary. Founded in London in 1792 by newspaper sellers Henry and Anna Smith, it now has more than 1,300 locations, with 255 of those in 25 countries outside of the UK.

WH Smith CEO Stephen Clarke said: 'While there is some uncertainty in the broader economic environment, we will continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in the business which positions us well in the current year and into the future.'

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