Interview: WHSmith duo Cowling and Keir – why our travel division isn’t grounded


As WHSmith launches its one-stop-shop at Heathrow Terminal 2, chief executive Carl Cowling and managing director Toby Keir tell Retail Week why they believe the sky’s the limit for the travel division – despite tough times on the high street.

“Is it too early for an espresso martini?” jokes WHSmith managing director for travel retail Toby Keir. “I spend my life in airports – I never know what time it is,” he explains, settling instead for a cappuccino. 

Pulling up a chair in Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionists’ Café in Heathrow Terminal 2, you’d be forgiven for thinking Keir and WHSmith chief executive Carl Cowling were about to head off on a business trip, were it not for their lack of luggage.

The coronavirus crisis has put paid to that, decimating footfall in airport terminals as the number of people travelling by plane plummets. 

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