WH Smith is optimistic about another year of significant growth in 2024 after reporting boosted profits for 2023. The retailer’s global travel division witnessed a 16% growth in turnover on a constant currency basis for the 20 weeks ending January 20, with UK travel sales up by 15%. The rebound in airport passenger numbers, especially with the easing of Covid-related restrictions, contributed to this growth. Rising airline passenger levels also led to a 14% increase in North American travel revenues. Despite a 4% decline in high street segment sales, WH Smith lifted its total revenue by 9%. The company plans to open over 110 travel shops in 2024.
WH Smith reported a resilient performance in its global travel division, with a 16% growth in turnover on a constant currency basis for the 20 weeks ending January 20. UK travel sales were up by 15%, benefiting from the rebound in airport passenger numbers and strong performances at rail and hospital stores. Rising airline passenger levels contributed to a 14% increase in North American travel revenues, and there was good like-for-like growth across the rest of the world.
Despite a 4% decline in high street segment sales, WH Smith lifted its total revenue by 9%, attributing the growth to the continued rebound in airport passenger numbers and strong performances at rail and hospital stores. The company anticipates another year of significant growth in 2024, expressing confidence despite some economic uncertainty. WH Smith plans to open over 110 travel shops in 2024, including 50 in North America and 15 in the UK. The company has gradually shifted away from the high street in recent years to expand its presence overseas and in travel hubs.
WH Smith’s high street business has faced challenges, with declining trade and a 4% drop in sales over the four weeks ending December 30. Despite this, the company remains optimistic about its growth prospects, particularly in the travel division. The high street business is viewed as a strong support for the group, providing essential revenue to fund expansion and dividends to shareholders. WH Smith aims to continue expanding its presence in travel hubs, leveraging the resilience of its travel division to drive overall growth.
The company’s approach involves focusing on its travel business and gradually reducing its reliance on the high street. WH Smith plans to open more travel shops in key locations, capitalizing on the rebound in travel demand. The growth in airport passenger numbers, along with the potential for increased travel as Covid-related restrictions ease, positions WH Smith for continued success in the travel retail sector. The company’s optimistic outlook for 2024 reflects its confidence in the resilience of its travel business and the ongoing recovery in the travel industry.