WHSmith has started a trial franchising of its brand to independent newsagents in a bid to expand its network.

The first store, in Clapham, London has already rebranded as WHSmith Local with two more in Purley, Surrey and Headington, Oxford, set to complete this month.

The stationer and bookseller is testing the franchise model to see if there is potential to roll it out nationwide and increase its market penetration, according to Retail Newsagent.

The retailer would benefit from economies of scale if it was to expand it widely and it could be the future of its struggling high street stores, which have been propped up by its travel stores.

Franchising is just one new model WHSmith is trialling. It is also testing a stationery format WHSmith Office, a physical store for online cards retailer Funky Pigeon, which it owns, and  Zoodle, a bookshop for children.