WHSmith and Game show the high street isn't dead yet

Both retailers are reporting increased profits after a difficult few years.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 16 Oct 2014

After Jessops announced its return to profit last week there’s more good news today from two of Britain’s high street stalwarts. Newsagents WH Smith's profits were up by 9% in the year to August 2014, despite a 2% fall in sales.

The dip was driven by its high street stores, where sales fell 6% but but trading profits were up 4% thanks to a cut in costs - something which Smiths has become pretty adept at in recent years. Sales were up 4% in its travel division, which includes stores at train stations, airports and hospitals and where profits jumped 11%.

Smiths will now launch an additional share buyback of as much as £50m and increase its full year dividend by 14%. Investors were pretty pleased as shares jumped by as much as 3.8% in early trading. The company also plans to launch a standalone chain of greetings card shops, called Cardmarket, and expand its WH Smith Local newsagent franchise.

Meanwhile, Game, which went into administration in 2012, has turned a corner, with chairman David Hamid hailing a ‘transformational year’ for the video games retailer. Its revenues grew 31% in the year to July 26th, while adjusted EBITDA soared 117.4% to £51.3m.

Hamid said, ‘Game has delivered a strong performance in what has been a transformational year for the company, which included our successful IPO in June. We are a dynamic and well-funded company with a strong platform from which to build and drive further growth and profitability.’

Game's strategy certainly appears to be working at the moment as its share price is up 43% since it floated four months ago.


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