WH Smith (WHS) was established in 1792 and went public in 1949. The retail division presently operates 542 retail stores and 127 travel stores across the country. In addition, the division operates e-retailing business through the website. The news division of WHS is UK’s largest wholesaler of newspaper and magazines. The company’s key product portfolio includes books, stationery, travel guides, greeting cards and gift packaging, art materials, entertainment products such as music and video CD’s, DVD’s, computer games and confectionery. The company derives a majority of its revenues from the UK, having divested itself of the Asia-pacific arm.Major competitors that need to be considered, looking at the diverse range of products offered, may be identified as Amazon.com, Borders Group, Barnes & Noble, Bertelsmann, Lagardere, HMV, Virgin, Woolworths, Asda, Tesco and a number of specialist small retailers.The most obvious strength of the company is its 542 retail outlets on every high-street in the country and 127 travel stores at railway stations and airports, allowing the company to reach a wide customer base – 70% of the British public visit a WHS store at least once every year!Travel Retail is a strong performer within the retail division and recorded growth rates of 3% in revenue (£311 million) and an increase of 24 % in its profits in 2005 compared with the previous year. While passenger growth at airports was 2%, the sales at airport outlets grew by 7%. (Datamonitor, 2006).
WH Smith News has 47 distribution centres across the UK and delivers up to 50 million newspapers and magazines every week. All distribution centres employ state-of-the-art technology, such as 'Pick and Pack' machinery, to help to improve customer service and reduce costs.
The company is in an excellent position to exploit the cutting edge Information Technology