About Us

WHSmith has been on the high street since 1792 and we've been expanding ever since.

WHSmith, a familiar name right across the UK. You’ll also find us in a huge range of travel locations, from airports to stations, hospitals to motorway service stations to name only a few. And it’s not just Brits that love our excellent range of products and service. We’re growing rapidly on a global scale and already operate from over 20 countries and over 60 airports worldwide. And we’re moving into new territories all the time. These are just some of the many reasons why we have consistently outperformed other major retailers over the past ten years, creating an increased Group profit year-on-year. Our total shareholder return has also increased by around 150% since 2013!

At WHSmith there are no one size fits all solutions for our business. To grow and advance at the rate we have, we’ve needed a strong culture of innovation. One where our employees are actively encouraged to bring new ideas to the table. We adapt our approach for different environments and if one of our entrepreneurial employees thinks they’ve got a great idea that our customers will love and will be financially viable, we give it a go. Some recent examples include the launch of our own-brand coffee shops in hospitals and travel locations, our partnership with M&S to deliver our joint Food to Go offering and the launch of funkyparty.com – the first extension of the Funky Pigeon brand, a company we acquired in 2010.

We have distinct strategies for each of our businesses geared towards sustaining a good performance, all underpinned by engaging with our customers and giving them excellent service. To do this we give our people access to a wide range of training and development opportunities, helping them grow their knowledge base and keeping them engaged with what we do.

As a leading bookseller and stationer, we also invest in our stores’ local communities, supporting education and life-long learning. We also support local councils and high street security groups to promote a positive business environment on the high street. Find out more about our other Corporate Responsibility initiatives.

Our strategy

We want to build on our position as Britain’s most popular bookseller, stationer and newsagent. To achieve that, we need a rock-solid plan. Our strategies for the two main parts of our business – High Street and Travel - are different, but both depend on the WHSmith brand. Travel and High Street are run by separate management teams reflecting the different customers, strategies, operating models and cost structures.

Travel

Our goal is to be the leading retailer in convenience, books and news for the world’s travelling customer.

High Street

Our goal is to be Britain’s most popular high street stationer, bookseller and newsagent.

By working to these two key aims, we plan to improve profitability and cash flow, delivering sustainable returns to shareholders. How does this work? Check out the diagram.

Our strategy

Our values

We strive to be outward-facing and customer-focused: an organisation that keeps its promises. Living our Four Key Values is an important part of achieving this aim:

Customer Focus

Keep the customer at the heart of all that we do

Value our People

Our people are respected and valued in an honest, open environment

Drive for Results

Tenacity for ambitious and competitive results – delivered with pace

Accountability

Take personal responsibility and deliver what we say we will

Our goals

DEVELOP NEW FORMATS AND CHANNELS IN THE UK AND INTERNATIONALLY

Travel – we’re constantly looking for exciting new locations, building the strength of the brand and growing our international business through different operating models.

High Street – we’re focusing on prime shopping locations in the UK with lots of customers, developing new formats, for example, WHSmith Local, and growing our online channels: whsmith.co.uk and funkypigeon.com

MANAGING OUR OFFER TO REFLECT THE CHANGING NEEDS OF OUR CUSTOMERS

Travel – we’re providing a compelling choice of products, available for customers whenever and wherever they need them. We’re also spotting changes in trends in our markets and channels, and managing our space accordingly. Finally, we’re using our own-label and private labels, such as Gadget Shop, to develop product ranges for the travelling customer and to sell wholesale to our international partners.

High Street – we’re continuing to manage the space in our stores to reflect the characteristics of each location. For example, competition, affluence, and store size and layout all make a difference. We’re also developing new products and ranges. Our efforts involve building on our strong heritage in own-brand education and stationery.

MAXIMISING RETURNS FROM OUR SPACE
Travel and High Street – this means focusing on the return from space in each store. We take into account all product and operating costs, and use space and product profitability data to make key decisions.
OPTIMISING EFFICIENCY
Travel and High Street – this means looking for ways to make our store operating models, distribution centres and supply chain more efficient. We need to think about product assortment and volumes which change over time, and the use of technology and other innovations.
FOCUSED USE OF CASH
Travel and High Street – this means investing in the business, but only when the returns will be greater than the costs. We’re also making acquisitions that increase the value of the business and returning any surplus cash to shareholders through dividend policies and share buybacks.
THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND SKILLS
Every day, our 14,000+ employees – in the UK and across the globe make WHSmith the business it is. They deserve the best from us. So we’re committed to promoting equality and diversity through our policies, practices and procedures, and to offering on-going training and development.
OPERATING RESPONSIBLY
Travel and High Street – this means acting responsibly with all our stakeholders including customers, suppliers, business partners, employees and the communities in which we operate.

Key facts

1 in 5

people reading a book on their summer holiday will have bought it from WHSmith

91%

of the population of Great Britain are within a 20 minute drive of a WHSmith store

30m

books are sold in our stores each year

59%

of the UK population visit a WHSmith store each year

18k

magazines are sold by our stores each hour

240+

million travellers come into contact with the WHSmith brand every year

140m

customers are served in our High Street stores each year

1m

magazines are sold by us on a weekly basis

Our history

1792
Started when Henry Walton Smith and his wife, Anna, opened a small newsvendors in Little Grosvenor Street, London.
1848
First book stall opened in Euston.
1850
Now recognised as the principal newspaper distributor in the country.
1903
First overseas branch opens in Paris.
1973
The iconic WHSmith brown and orange company logo is developed.
1995
WHSmith takes the UK's first secure online order on 27th April. This is recognised as the start of online shopping in the UK.
1997
UK Travel Retail is created as a separate business.
1999
WHSmith Online, whsmith.co.uk is launched.
2006
Demerger of Retail and News Distribution businesses into WHSmith PLC (formerly Retail) and Smiths News PLC (formerly News).
2007
WHSmith announces its intention to open Post Offices in its High Street stores.
2010
WHSmith launches funkypigeon.com.
2012
WHSmith acquires ‘Fresh Plus’ café business in Australia.
2013
WHSmith trials WHSmith Local franchise model for independent newsagents.
2016
WHSmith announces up to a further 61 Post Offices are to relocate to its High Street stores.