LOCAL BOOKSHOP UNDER THREAT OF CLOSURE?

A general view of a branch of WH Smith in London.
WH Smith has closed the majority of its stores around the world.

WH Smith, which has a busy store in Helenbsurgh, said revenues plunged by 85% as the coronavirus lockdown resulted in a “significant hit” to trading.

The retailer has closed the majority of its stores – the future of the Helensburgh branch is not yet known – due to the pandemic resulting in sales slumping by 91% across its travel arm – with outlets in railway stations, airports and motorway services – and by 74% in its high street division.

But WH Smith said it had performed strongly online – particularly in books, where sales rocketed by 400% in April.

Chief executive Carl Cowling said: “Since March, we have seen a significant impact on our business as a result of COVID-19, with the majority of our stores closed around the world.”

WH Smith’s 1,194-strong travel division includes its stores based in hospitals – where it has kept 130 open to serve NHS staff, and extended grocery ranges available during the crisis.

Of its 575 high street stores, 203 with Post Offices have been kept open during the lockdown.

WH Smith said it was working on plans for a phased reopening of stores, while in its airports network it expects to see a gradual improvement in passenger numbers from this autumn.

  • Their Sinclair Street branch is the nearest book shop to West Dunbartonshire, which has no book shops.

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