WHSmith is trialling new travel store formats, including a kids’ toy and book store, to optimise its use of store space.
The book and stationery retailer is set to open three Zoodle stores next year that will sell WHSmiths’ kids and toys ranges. Stores will initially be located in Manchester Airport in terminal one and terminal two with a third in Melbourne, Australia.
Finance director Robert Moorhead said both categories were growing at the retailer, with kids’ books delivering a “resilient” performance, as around three-quarters of WHSmith book sales comprise non-fiction and kids.
“It’s very early days and we will be selling big brands such as Lego and Gruffalo,” he added.
WHSmith will also trial a WHSmith Books Plus format, which will sell books, stationery and impulse-buy products. It will launch in Heathrow terminal five later this year.
In a presentation to analysts yesterday, outgoing chief executive Kate Swann said travel stores gave the retailer the opportunity to trial new brands and develop existing ones, as well as extend into new areas and build relationships with landlords.
Retail Week revealed yesterday that WHSmith has opened a stationery-focused store under the WHSmith Office fascia on Baker Street this week.
WHSmith’s travel division is continuing to deliver strong pre-tax profit growth, surging 11% to £63m, against the high street’s 4% pre-tax jump to £54m.
Total group pre-tax profit was up 10% to £102m in the year to August 31.
WHSmith chief executive Kate Swann revealed she will exit the retailer in June next year, to be succeeded by high street managing director Steve Clarke. Moorhead will become chief operating officer alongside his existing responsibilities.
WHSmith chief executive Kate Swann to step down
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WHSmith launches new formats as it grows travel division