WH Smith has signed a deal with the Post Office to allow counters to appear in the retailer’s high-street stores.
As part of the Post Office’s plans to improve its town centre performance, and WH Smith’s trial of new formats, franchised counters will be tested in six outlets. WH Smith stores in London’s Hammersmith, Slough, Shrewsbury, Swansea and Ashton-under-Lyme, near Manchester, and at another unnamed location, will be converted.
In these towns, existing Post Office branches will close, and staff will be offered redeployment into other roles within the group. Counters within WH Smith will be operated by the retailer’s staff.
A WH Smith spokeswoman explains: “This will be like a store within a store. It is part of our turnaround programme. We will assess customer feedback and review activity before deciding whether to extend the service. It’s very early days.”
A spokesman for the Post Office, which has franchised branches in other retailers including Spar, adds: “If this is a success there may be other opportunities.”
The branches are expected to offer a full range of Post Office-branded products. However, where there is product crossover, WH Smith’s items will take precedence.
WH Smith is rolling out standalone Books and Stationery formats, as first revealed in Marketing Week (February 2). This week, it has also announced its intention to demerge its News Distribution arm, which will be rebranded as Smiths News.