* Comparable travel sales jump 4 pct
* High street comparable sales down 2 pct
* Shares rise as much as 4.8 pct
By Esha Vaish and Rahul B
Oct 13 Britain's WH Smith Plc said it
will lose its protection against a weaker pound next year and is
looking to offset the impact by consolidating factories and
negotiating better prices with suppliers to cut its costs.
The high street retailer is looking to curb an expected
increase in costs associated with buying $30 million of
stationery, after a hedge against the dollar expires next year,
WH Smith Chief Executive Stephen Clarke said on Thursday.
"Since June 24, we have been talking to our suppliers and
factories, looking at how we can reduce cost that might come
through by consolidation of factories or through other
productivity initiatives," Clarke said on a conference call.
"We have made some real good progress there," he said,
adding that it was too early to say how much it would save.
Firms across Britain are having to mitigate the costs
associated with the fall in the pound to near 31-year-lows once
existing currency hedges expire, which could hit margins on
The pound has fallen by 28 cents since the night of the
vote, dropping to $1.2215 on Tuesday, while the average
cost of imported goods in August was 7.6 percent higher than a
year earlier, the sharpest year-on-year rise since 2011.
WH Smith, which runs over 1300 stores, has seen a decline in
comparable sales over last two years, as the wider industry
contends with shoppers buying more online.
However, thanks to a steady 4 percent comparable sales
increase from its 570-plus outlets at airports and railways
station across the UK, WH Smith reported a 1 percent rise in
like-for-like sales for the year ended August 31, a slight
improvement on flat sales for the year before.
Its shares were up 3.7 percent to 1,582 pence at 0836 GMT,
making it the top gainer on London's midcap index.
WH Smith said it had not seen any rise in the number of
tourists visiting its stores, despite forecasts that the pound's
fall could attract more overseas visitors.
"We have not seen any change in UK passenger numbers. Where
we see an uptick of overseas passengers coming in, we will
allocate our space accordingly," Clarke said.
The CEO declined to comment on current trading, but said he
expected good like-for-like sales growth in the travel business.
(Editing by Alexander Smith)