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    WH Smith suffers £226MILLION pre-tax LOSS in past year

    WH Smith suffers £226MILLION pre-tax LOSS in past year – three times more than analysts feared – after Covid forced 228-year-old High Street name to shut shops and axe up to 1,500 staff

    • Retailer fell into deep loss after company was forced to close hundreds of stores 
    • The travel arm of the business also took a hit due to pandemic travel restrictions 
    • WH Smith previously revealed up to 1,500 jobs were on the line amid Covid 

    High street retailed WH Smith has fallen into a deep loss in the past 12 months amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

    Their £226 million loss is three times more than analysts feared after forecasters previously described 2020 as a ‘write-off’ year for WH Smith.

    But the company’s chief executive has said they have a ‘robust plan’ to help them ’emerge stronger’.

    The company was forced to close hundreds of stores across the country as high street footfall dropped, and its travel business took an especially bad hit.

    The retailer predominantly has stores on the high street and also in airports.  

    The retailer said it had lost £226 million before tax in the 12 months to August, a swing from a £135 million profit a year earlier.

    WH Smith said it had lost £226 million before tax in the 12 months to August, a swing from a £135 million profit a year earlier. Pictured, a store in London in August

    Revenue dropped 33% to just over £1 billion, WH Smith revealed on Thursday.  

    WH Smith chief executive Carl Cowling said: ‘Since March, we have been heavily impacted by the pandemic.’

    He added: ‘While passenger numbers continue to be significantly impacted in the UK, our North American business, where 85% of passengers are domestic, is beginning to see some encouraging signs of recovery. 

    ‘In addition, we continue to open new stores in the US and win significant tenders across major US airports.

    ‘In high street, we had seen a steady recovery and we were well set up both in stores and online as we went into the second lockdown. We currently have 558 stores open.

    Analysts at Investec previously described 2020 as a 'write-off' year for WH Smith (file photo)

    Analysts at Investec previously described 2020 as a ‘write-off’ year for WH Smith (file photo)

    ‘We have a robust plan across all our businesses focusing on cost management and initiatives within our control which support us in the immediate term and position us well to emerge stronger as our markets recover.’

    The retailer previously announced up to 1,500 jobs could be axed as its pre-tax loss sits somewhere between £70million and £75million for the year to August 31.

    Analysts at Investec previously said they expect it to deliver a £73 million loss, describing 2020 as a ‘write-off’ year for WH Smith.

    In August the 228-year-old business said 1,500 jobs, around 11 per cent of its workforce, could be axed after a dramatic fall in sales. 

    Its travel arm, which has boosted the group with rapid growth in recent years, has seen revenues slump on the back of global travel restrictions which are set to continue for the coming months.

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