WH Smith reinstated dividends after its annual profit slightly beat market expectations due to a rebound in travel demand from COVID-19 pandemic lows, even as labour strife disrupted business at its shops at train stations.
The company, which sells everything from books and sandwiches to Bluetooth headphones, said it would pay a final dividend of 9.1 pence per share. It had suspended dividends in 2020.
The travel industry has seen a sharp rebound during the year, leading to longer waiting times and chaos at airports and train stations for passengers, although rail strikes in Britain have also caused some travel disruptions.
'Strongest Ever Position'
"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," said chief executive Carl Cowling.
"We have opened 98 new stores in the year and we have a pipeline of 150 new stores yet to open across 16 countries and in airports as varied as Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Brussels, Oslo and Melbourne."
The company reported a £73 million (€83.5 million) profit for the year ended in August 2022, from a loss of £55 million (€62.9 million) a year ago.
According to a company-compiled consensus, profit expectations were at £72 million (€82.4 million) for the year.
"While there is economic uncertainty, travel patterns globally continue to improve and this, combined with the strength of the group's growth opportunities, means that we are well positioned for a year of significant progress in 2023", said Cowling.