WH Smith opens new Dubai store

WH Smith is expanding in Dubai after opening its first store at the Oasis Centre in July.

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WH Smith, the British newspaper, books and stationary retailer, is expanding in Dubai, after it opened its first store at the Oasis Centre in July.

The newsagent is set to open a second store in Dubai Mall and is also believed to be weighing other possible sites at Dubai Airport and Business Bay.

It has appointed Aventus Retail as its local franchisee.

WH Smith, listed in London, has been hit by weak sales at home as consumer confidence falls in the wake of government austerity measures.

The brand hopes to tap into the growth in other markets, opening 32 units worldwide and agreeing a further 28 in India, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Australia.

"The economic conditions remain challenging. However, we have planned accordingly," said Kate Swann, the chief execuitve, as she announced the company's results yesterday.

"We are a resilient business with a strong and consistent record of both profit growth and cash generation and have opportunities for growth in both the UK and internationally."

The company's like-for-like sales fell 5 per cent in the year to the end of August compared with same period a year earlier, but group profit from operations increased 5 per cent to £109 million (Dh628.44m).

The group's travel division, made up of outlets at airports, train stations, hospitals and motorway service stations in the UK and abroad, delivered a strong performance, with operating profit increasing by 8 per cent to £57m and sales up 1 per cent.

"The travel division is now half of the group's sales," said Kate Calvert, an analyst at Seymour Pierce in London.

"WH Smith is taking the cashflow from the UK business and investing it to grow internationally and this is seen as very positive."

She said WH Smith would have to be wary of making the mistake of failing to adapt the business to local markets, but said the slow rate at which it was expanding would allow for hiccups to be overcome.

"Retailers have learnt from their mistakes in expanding abroad, WH Smith is not going at a particularly fast pace, because they want to get it right," Ms Calvert said.