WHSmith is cutting the cost of products in its hospital stores after a meeting with Labour MP Paula Sherriff.

The retailer will ensure promotions on its stationery are the same across its entire estate following the meeting.

The BBC claims WHSmith will also reduce food and drink costs, but a spokesman denied this was the case and explained it was unnceccesary because prices are already “very similar”.

A WHSmith spokesman said: “The vast majority of our products are the same price in both our hospital and high street stores.  For food and drinks, where prices may be different, they are very similar and often slightly cheaper in hospitals reflecting the different sales mix. 

“Going forward, our high street stationery promotions will always be available in our hospital stores and we will continue to monitor average selling prices across all ranges to ensure they remain aligned.”

Political pressure

WHSmith is changing its prices after political pressure from Sherriff, who sits on the health select committee.

Sherriff met WHSmith boss Stephen Clarke on September 17 about the retailer’s pricing strategy after reports emerged WHSmith and Marks & Spencer were charging more at their hospital stores than they do on the high street.

An M&S spokeswoman told Retail Week Sherriff was due to meet with the company in mid-October.

M&S’s 21 hospital stores are run by franchise partners, so split across WHSmith, Compass and SSP. Catering company SSP is run by former WHSmith boss Kate Swann.

Sherriff previously told Retail Week she would pursue the hospital pricing issue “through any route” if she was not satisfied with the evidence retailers provided in meetings as to why they charge more in hospital stores.

Other retailers in hospitals have not been charging higher prices. It is understood Boots has had a policy of having the same price in hospital stores as it does on the high street for some time, despite rents at hospital stores being higher.