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WH Smith takes 'small' hit from Omicron but sees recovery in travel markets

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Wednesday 19 Jan 2022

WH Smith takes 'small' hit from Omicron but sees recovery in travel markets

(Sharecast News) - WH Smith said on Wednesday that revenues remained below pre-pandemic levels and that it had taken a small hit from the Omicron variant, but forecast a resumption in the recovery of its travel markets.
The retailer - which has outlets at train stations, airports and hospitals - said total group revenue in the 20 weeks to 15 January was 85% of 2019 levels. In Travel UK, total revenue was 70% of 2019 levels.

WH Smith said that prior to the emergence of Omicron in early December, it saw a "consistent and encouraging" improvement in sales trends across all its channels, which was followed by a resilient performance in December.

Overall revenue in North America for the 20-week period was at 92% of 2019 levels.

The retailer's update showed that group revenues reached 90% of 2019 levels in November, but slipped back to 87% in December.

Chief executive Carl Cowling said: "We are pleased with the progress the group has made in the period.

"In Travel, we have focused on our strategic objectives of increasing customer conversion, growing average transaction value and winning new space, all of which continue to deliver good results. We have now opened 16 of the recently won InMotion technology stores in UK airports and are pleased with their performance. Our strong track record of winning new tenders in the US continues, with a significant nine store win at Kansas airport.

"Our High Street business performed well, in line with our expectations, with our online businesses delivering strong performances.

"Looking ahead, although we are seeing a small impact from the Omicron variant, we anticipate a resumption in the recovery of our Travel markets over the coming months. We are well placed for the key trading period in Travel this summer and the ongoing recovery in our markets."

At 0900 GMT, the shares were up 5% at 1,632p.



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