Up to 1,500 jobs at risk at WH Smith

WH Smith has said it could axe up to 1,500 jobs after the coronavirus pandemic led to a fall in customers at its travel and high street shops.

The retailer said it expects to report a headline loss before tax for the financial year ending 31 August of between £70m and £75m.

It reported that group revenues were down 57% in July compared with the same month last year, after its travel arm was particularly badly hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

WH Smith Group chief executive, Carl Cowling said: “In our Travel business, while we are beginning to see early signs of recovery in some of our markets, the speed of recovery continues to be slow. At the same time, while there has been some progress in our High Street business, it does continue to be adversely affected by low levels of footfall.

“As a result, we now need to take further action to reduce costs across our businesses. I regret that this will have an impact on a significant number of colleagues whose roles will be affected by these necessary actions, and we will do everything we can to support them at this challenging time.

While we are mindful of the continuing uncertainties that exist, we are a resilient and versatile business. The operational actions we are taking along with the financing arrangements that are in place, put us in a strong position to navigate this time of uncertainty and we are well positioned to benefit in due course from the recovery of our key markets.”