By Michael Susin
WH Smith, the renowned books, magazine, and snack retailer, has announced a notable rise in pretax profits for fiscal 2023. This growth was primarily driven by the strong performance of its travel division. The company also revealed its plans to increase dividend payouts and expressed optimism about the return of passenger numbers to pre-pandemic levels.
According to WH Smith, pretax profit surged to £110 million ($135.1 million) from £63 million in fiscal 2022. Additionally, the company reported a rise in revenue from £1.40 billion to £1.80 billion. Notably, the Travel U.K. division experienced a remarkable 36% increase in revenue, while North America witnessed a growth of 32%. Furthermore, revenue from the rest of the world division nearly doubled.
The board of WH Smith has proposed a final dividend of 20.8 pence per share. This will bring the full-year dividend to 28.9 pence per share, reflecting the company’s robust performance, strong cash generation, and confidence in future prospects.
WH Smith expressed its optimism about fiscal year 2024, stating that it has started with continued momentum across travel markets. Revenue for the first nine weeks until November 4 has already risen by 16%.
The company stated, “Travel is well positioned to continue creating value in the structurally advantaged markets it operates in, as well as in the vast opportunities to win and open additional stores.”
According to analysis from the International Air Transport Association, passenger numbers are forecasted to return to 2019 levels by the end of calendar year 2024. Moreover, it is anticipated that passenger numbers will continue to grow at a low single-digit rate each year in the medium term.
As of 0826 GMT, WH Smith’s shares were up by 0.8% or 9.0 pence, trading at 1,198.0 pence.