The travel industry has seen a sharp rebound over the course of last year as offices reopened and more people undertook leisure trips after months of pandemic restrictions, although rail strikes in Britain caused some disruptions in the sector.
WH Smith, which sells everything from sandwiches to Bluetooth headphones, said total group revenue increased by 41% year-over-year for the 20 weeks to January 14, and by 20% compared with 2019.
'A Strong Start'
"The group has made a strong start to the financial year, with our global travel retail business growing strongly across all regions," commented Carl Cowling, chief executive.
"Our strategy to transform our customer offer continues at pace through broadening our categories and expanding our ranges, to include health and beauty and tech accessories, and is underpinned by a forensic approach to retail."
The company said overall passenger numbers remained well below 2019 levels. But while revenue from its stores at UK airports rose 35% from pre-pandemic levels, revenue from its rail stores dropped 13%.
WH Smith had reinstated its dividend in November after its annual profit slightly beat market expectations, signalling an improved outlook in travel patterns.
"The group is in its strongest ever position as a global travel retailer," Cowling added. "This strength, combined with the ongoing improvement in passenger numbers across the globe, means that we are confident of another year of significant growth in 2023."