WHSmith won’t open high street stores as it focuses on other markets

30th June 2023 | Jack Oliver

The boss of WHSmith has said the retailer will not be opening any more stores on UK high streets, as it shifts its focus to the travel and international markets.

The retailer will be looking to increase its presence in train stations and airports, and aims to open more stores in Europe and the US, WHSmith’s chief executive Carl Cowling told the BBC.

In April, WHSmith said its pipeline of stores included 60 in North America.

In recent years, WHSmith acquired travel retailers InMotion and Marshall Retail Group, in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Last year, it also partnered with Amazon to open a technology store in LaGuardia Airport, New York City.

In WHSmith’s most recent quarterly report, it was revealed that the retailer’s revenue in its travel division had increased by 31% compared to the previous year. Its high street revenue increased at a much smaller rate of 2%.

“We’ve got a very healthy high street business in the UK. But we’ve got no ambitions to grow that,” Cowing told the BBC.

He added that opening any more high street stores, of which WHSmith operates around 550, would be a “duplication”, noting the retailer’s presence in major cities.

However, the retailer is still investing in its UK estate, with Toys”R”Us set to make its return to UK high streets through an in-store trial partnership with WHSmith.


Looking for more retail news? you might find these interesting