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1500 WH Smith staff could be made redundant

WH Smith has today issued a trading update, which amongst other things indicates that 1500 staff could loose their jobs.

In the trading statement issued today they said :-

In High Street, our 203 stores that host Post Offices remained open through the pandemic to provide vital postal and banking services to their local communities. Given we kept stores open in these locations, we were well advanced with our reopening plans for the stores that had temporarily closed.

Since June, we have reopened our remaining High Street stores with 575 now open, though high street footfall is significantly down on 2019 levels. Our online businesses have continued to perform strongly.

As a result of the impact on passenger numbers and lower footfall on the UK high street, we have taken the difficult decision to review our store operations across both our Travel and High Street businesses. We are now starting a collective consultation on a proposed restructure which could lead to up to c.1,500 roles becoming redundant.

This has been a very difficult decision and we are committed to supporting all our colleagues throughout this process and ensuring it is conducted fairly. Based on our initial assessment, we believe that the costs associated with the restructure will be in the region of £15m – £19m1, reflecting the Group’s enhanced redundancy policy.

Following the impact of Covid-19 in the second half of the financial year, the Group expects to deliver a headline loss before tax for the financial year ending 31 August 2020 of between £70m and £75m.

WH Smith Group Chief Executive, Carl Cowling, commented:

“Covid-19 continues to have a significant impact on the WH Smith Group. Throughout the pandemic, we have responded quickly and taken decisive actions to protect the business including substantially strengthening our financial position. We have also welcomed support from Government where available.”

“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.”

WH Smith PLC will announce its 2020 Preliminary results on Thursday 12th November 2020.

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