WH Smith to shut 25 High Street stores putting 200 jobs at risk

WH Smith will shut 25 High Street stores in a move that puts another 200 jobs at risk after it swung to a £280million loss.

The books and stationery retailer said it would probably need to permanently shut the shops – most of which are small – as part of a cost-cutting drive.

The fall in annual profits compared with a £135million profit last year.

WH Smith is to shut 25 High Street stores in a move that puts another 200 jobs at risk after it swung to a £280m loss

WH Smith is to shut 25 High Street stores in a move that puts another 200 jobs at risk after it swung to a £280m loss

WH Smith is to shut 25 High Street stores in a move that puts another 200 jobs at risk after it swung to a £280m loss

Covid has hammered WH Smith, which saw sales tumble by a third to £1billion in the year to August 31.

Health, beauty and hygiene products performed well in travel stores, while working-from-home and electrical accessories sold well in High Street stores.

A surge in online sales – which more than tripled in the second half – was not enough to offset the hit from lockdown closures and lower commuting levels. 

The FTSE 250-listed company’s lucrative travel arm suffered particularly badly.

Sales fell 43 per cent as the number of passengers passing through airports and train stations nosedived this year.

Around 240 of its 400 travel shops are still open.

The company, which had more than 14,000 staff in 2019, culled 1,500 jobs in August, mostly in the travel division.

Chief executive Carl Cowling said the US has been a bright spot and it has won contracts to open stores at ‘major’ airports. 

Cowling said: ‘While passenger numbers continue to be significantly impacted in the UK, our North American business, where 85 per cent of passengers are domestic, is beginning to see some recovery.’

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