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Past Times website taken down as WH Smith buys the brand

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The Past Times website has been taken down, following WH Smith’s purchase of the brand.

The heritage brand, which specialized in jewellery and homewares inspired by history, announced to its 25,486 Facebook followers this morning that it was no longer trading.

The multichannel retailer had been trading in administration since January when administrators from KPMG were hoping to sell the business, then trading online and through 51 stores, as a going concern.

But WH Smith announced yesterday that it had bought the Past Times brand, first founded in 1984.

Today’s Past Times Facebook announcement read: “Unfortunately the Past Times website is no longer trading. All outstanding orders that have not been dispatched have been cancelled and customers have not been charged. Apologies for the delay in response.”

Visitors to the Past Times website were met with with a page blank apart from the simple message: “We are doing some important updates.”

WH Smith mentioned the acquisition only briefly in its half-year results yesterday. There it said its plans for the Past Times brand would be akin to its strategy for Gadgetshop, which it bought in 2010. Gadgetshop branded goods can now be found on the Gadgetshop section of the WH Smith website, where today some nine items were on sale.

The news came as WH Smith, which also trades online and from 565 travel outlets at home and abroad and 621 high street stores around the UK, reported 5% growth in pre-tax profits to £69m in the six months to February 28, on sales that fell by 4% to £638m, a fall on 5% on a like-for-like basis. Profits grew following cost savings of £9m during the first half.

The company also reported international growth with 121 outlets in its travel business now open or soon to open overseas.

“We expect the trading environment to remain challenging however the business is in good shape and is well positioned for continued growth in both the UK and internationally,” said Kate Swann, chief executive.

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