WHSmith acquires InMotion for £155m

WHSmith has agreed to buy pure play travel retailer InMotion for £155 million.

In a statement announcing the purchase, WHSmith said it expected the deal to be cash flow accretive and will have no impact on share buyback plans announced earlier this month.

InMotion is the largest airport-based digital accessories retailer in North America, with the acquisition doubling the size of WHSmith’s international travel business.

Established in 1998, InMotion operates 114 stores across 43 airports in the US, with stores in nine of the top 10 and 22 of the top 25 busiest US airports.

WHSmith noted that InMotion’s airport-based stores would become a platform from which to expand its own international travel business into the world’s largest travel retail market.

The move falls in line with WHSmith’s strategy in recent years of taking both the focus and pressure off its high street stores in order to strengthen its travel arm.

The bookseller’s travel business – stores based in airports or railway terminals – has now delivered more than 10 consecutive years of profit growth. 

“InMotion is a highly successful pure play travel retailer in the world’s largest travel retail market,” WHSmith group chief executive Stephen Clarke said.

“The acquisition of InMotion is an exciting value creation opportunity for the WH Smith Group and marks a major step in our international travel retail growth strategy.

“The travel retail market in North America for digital accessories offers significant growth potential.

“In addition, InMotion provides us with a scalable platform to launch the WH Smith airport format into the US, the world’s largest travel retail market for news, books and convenience products.”

InMotion’s senior management team will continue to lead the retailer, including chef executive Jeremy Smith, who has been with the business for 12 years.

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