More bad news for the UK high street: WH Smith is closing some stores and ending experiments including its discount card shop CardMarket and WH Smith Local concessions.
Currently, it looks like only six high street WH Smith branches will close, which isn't too bad considering there are more than 600 of them. However, the restructure shows that the high street environment is pretty tough at the moment, and there's just no space for experiments like CardMarket – launched in 2014 as a competitor to low-cost card shops like Card Factory. The closures follow similar moves from Poundworld and Toys R Us.
However, it's not all doom and gloom for the high street stalwart. WH Smith travel concessions in train stations and airports apparently account for two-thirds of profits for the retailer, and those have seen revenues rise by 8% this year. The company also added 42 new units to its 286 international stores across 27 countries – that's right, one of our ropiest high street stores is apparently a big success worldwide. The mind boggles.
The press release announcing the restructure also includes an amazing quote that attributes things not being as bad as they could be to a really unlikely hero:
"We had a good year in High Street despite the well documented challenges of the UK high street. During an encouraging second half, the business traded well and we quickly identified the latest trend in the market, becoming a one-stop-shop for all slime related products."
Slime to the rescue, apparently.
Smith's has presumably also benefited from its practice of high-pressure chocolate orange sales and replacing all staff with malfunctioning robo-checkouts. Further cost savings must have been achieved by failing to replace the store carpet that is so famously bad, it inspired a whole Twitter account:
There’s a whole new world under the shelves pic.twitter.com/FVcx83DcSU
— WHS Carpet (@WHS_Carpet) September 16, 2018
In any case, things can't be too terrible for ol' Smiths – they still had the dough to buy 10,000 awful comics on The Apprentice last night.
Featured image: Ben Sutherland via Flickr CC