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WHSmith continues to invest in the customer experience online, while its customers return in-store and to travel

WHSmith is testing customers' appetites for fast delivery of work-from-home essentials. Image courtesy of Deliveroo

WHSmith says it has continued to invest online in its latest financial year to improve the customer service that its WHSmith, Funkypigeon and Cult Pens websites offer. It says it is confident of Funkypigeon’s ability to grow, in the wake of an April cyber incident that has hit both its sales and profits. 

On WHSmith’s own website it has focused on conversion, how products are presented and on marketing. It also continues to trial fast delivery via Deliveroo from 10 shops in locations from Oxford and Cambridge to Richmond, London. At Funkypigeon, WHSmith has redeveloped its app to boost conversion, and launched a next-day, seven day a week delivery service that it says has been well received. At Cult Pens, it has extended the product range and introduced product personalisation with “good results”.

The update comes as WHSmith posts a return to profit after shoppers returned to the high street  where it has 527 shops – and to travel – where it sells through 1,196 outlets in airports, stations, and in holiday resorts via brands including WHSmith and InMotion – in the wake of Covid-19 trading restrictions. 

High street and travel retailer WHSmith today reports revenues of £1.4bn in the year to August 31. That’s up 58% from £886m a year earlier. Top-line pre-tax profits of £83m were up from a loss of £51m last time. At the bottom line, after exceptional items of £20m, pre-tax profits of £63m were up from a loss of £116m a year earlier. 

Carl Cowling, WHSmith group chief executive, says: “2022 has been a successful year for WHSmith and we enter the new financial year with the group in its strongest-ever position as a global travel retailer with multiple growth opportunities across the world.”

Greetings card business Funkypigeon posted revenues of £35m, down from £54m a year earlier, and headline earnings before interest, tax and one-off costs of £8m, down from £14m last time. WHSmith says the figures are as expected, following a cyber incident that it reported in April. It says Funkypigeon is now recovering well from that event, adding: “We are confident of the substantial opportunities to grow the platform further, and significantly grow revenue and profits over the medium-term.”

WHSmith puts the UK greetings card market at a value of £1.6bn that it says is stable, with a growing share of sales taking place online. 

WHSmith is a Top350 retailer in RXUK Top500 research, while Funkypigeon is ranked Top500 and Cult Pens is ranked Top1000 in the RXUK Growth 2000.

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