Travel division boosts WH Smith

Leslie Hanson
October 12, 2017

And interim dividend was announced of 0.69p per share, up 10%.

Retailer WH Smith has revealed improved pre-tax profits and an improved dividend for the year.

WH Smith generated higher sales from its travel shops than its high street stores for the first time in its 225-year history on the back of a surge in tourists splurging on Union Jack souvenirs and global growth. Travel sales rose by 9 per cent during the year, offsetting a 5 per cent drop from its high street division.

The group proposed a final dividend of 33.6p, up 10% on the prior year, bringing the total dividend to 48.2p compared to 43.9p in 2016.

Group profit before tax rose seven per cent from £131m past year to £140m for the 12 months to August 2017.

WH Smith has 611 high street stores, having closed three over the financial year.

Hyett said the results marked a "important milestone" for WH Smith as travel becomes a major contributor to group performance and expects the trend to continue.

"The high street business performed well -matching the particularly strong profit performance from previous year".

Mr Clarke said the group aimed to open another 15 travel stores in the United Kingdom over the new financial year, while also launching more of the 41 global stores it recently secured in airports overseas.

This has come as the travel chain has grown consistently - boosted most recently by surging numbers of foreign travellers looking to take advantage of the weak pound, as well as rising numbers of United Kingdom passengers.

"Overall we like WH Smith's direction of travel".

The company also announced it would return up to £50mln in cash to shareholders through a rolling on-market share buyback programme.

Clarke said the further share buyback and increased dividend reflects strong cash generation and the company's confidence in its future prospects.

He added the "economic environment remains uncertain", but said WH Smith is well-placed for the year ahead.

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