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WH Smith buys Marshall Retail

By Hazel Davis

Books and stationery seller eyes US success with travel acquisition

British books and stationery seller WH Smith has announced plans to strengthen its US presence with the purchase of travel retailer Marshall Retail.

The deal – for $400m (£312m) – will double the FTSE 250 company’s international travel business and build on its 2018 acquisition of airport travel retailer InMotion.

Marshall Retail operates 170 stores in North American airports and key tourist resorts, including Las Vegas.

WH Smith says it plans to raise £155m from shareholders, representing 7 per cent of its existing share capital, to fund the acquisition. After the InMotion acquisition and restructuring, half-year profits fell by 21 per cent but the retailer says it expects to deliver revenue of $204m in 2019.

Carl Cowling, managing director of WH Smith’s high street business, will take over from Stephen Clarke as chief executive on November 1, 2019.

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