Their son, William Henry Smith took over the business and was joined by his son, William Henry Jr. and WH Smith and Son was born.
The firm based its growth on the railway boom and capitalized on it by its presence in the railway stations and using the railroads as a means of distribution. For many years, the main rival to both W H Smith's railway station and news distribution business was John Menzies. WH Smith addressed this competition by buying out all retail outlets of Menzies in 1988. This has resulted in an amazing presence for WH Smith in every single railway station in Britain.
In the year to 31 August 2004, W H Smith plc had a turnover of 2,834 million, on which it made a pre-tax loss of 130 million, due to significant "exceptional items" and losses on the sales of subsidiaries. Disposals during the year reduced the group's net assets from 409 million to 256 million. At its December 2004 share price of around 323p, the company's market capitalization was just under 600 million. (wikipedia.org)
The company had been having a series of problems including the retail where it has faced tough competition on diverse fronts, significant fall in pension funds that has caused internal tensions and from the threat from its distribution side that all contributed to its financial downfall. There is no doubt that the company has to try to revamp on all fronts to recap its former glory.
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