WH Smith is testing standalone book and stationery stores in an attempt to “rebuild its authority” in key categories.
The retailer has opened WH Smith Stationers at Charing Cross and London Bridge train stations in London. They are part of the company’s travel division, which includes stores in airports, rail and bus stations, but an outlet is also being tested in Barnet high street, North London. The shops will only stock stationery, and could be rolled out nationwide if sales figures impress.
Meanwhile, WH Smith Books high street outlets, offering only books, magazines and newspapers, are also being tested in Barnet, and three other locations.
A spokeswoman for WH Smith says: “Our strategy is to rebuild our authority in stationery, and books, news and magazines. We are testing the range of books we can stock, and have opened stores in different areas of the country to investigate shopping patterns.”
Last week, WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann revealed that underlying sales at its high street stores fell by six per cent in the 21 weeks to January 21, with CDs and DVDs particularly badly hit.
But total underlying sales for its retail divisions were boosted by a three per cent rise in underlying sales in travel outlets.