WHSmith named worst retailer on the UK high street

WHSmith Which poll
// WHSmith rated worst retailer on the UK high street by Which?
// It was criticised for poor value for money and poor in-store experience
// Homebase rated second worst
// Richer Sounds rated as best retailer on UK high street for its in-store experience

WHSmith has been named the worst retailer on the UK’s high street in an annual survey conducted by consumer lobby group Which?

The books and stationery retailer was criticised for its poor value for money, poor in-store experience and service, and for its stores being “cramped and messy”.

Its customer score of 50 per cent placed it underneath Homebase, which had a score of 53 per cent and Sports Direct with 54 per cent.

However, WHSmith attempted to clear the results by saying the Which? survey was “neither statistically relevant nor meaningful relative to our loyal customer base”.

“Every week we serve three million customers in our 600 UK high street stores and have maintained our presence on the high street where many other retailers are closing stores,” WHSmith said.

Meanwhile, Homebase was criticised for its stores being difficult to navigate, and that it was “hard to find anything in overcrowded shelves” and “difficult to find staff for guidance”.

On the other hand, Richer Sounds was named the best retailer with a customer score of 89 per cent, just ahead of outdoor and travel equipment chain Rohan with a score of 87 per cent and department store John Lewis with 86 per cent.

Richer Sounds was scored highly for its in-store experience, with service such as having purchases carried to their cars, or the retailer paying for customer parking.

The top-rated shops according to Which? are:

1. Richer Sounds (89 per cent)
2. Rohan (87 per cent)
3. John Lewis (86 per cent)
4. Hotter Shoes, Lakeland, Toolstation (84 per cent)
7. Apple, Bodycare, Crew (83 per cent)
10. Screwfix, Seasalt, Waterstones (82 per cent)

The worst-rated shops:

101. Clinton Cards (61 per cent)
102. Peacocks, House of Fraser (59 per cent)
104. New Look (58 per cent)
105. River Island, JD Sports (56 per cent)
107. Sports Direct (54 per cent)
108. Homebase (53 per cent)
109. WHSmith (50 per cent)

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  1. Totally agree with the WHS rating. The Chief executive was on Breakfast TV a couple of weeks backs proclaiming they had good stores. WHS stores on the high street looks tired and shabby with poor LED lighting and lack of investment in updating stores is so apparent in their Hull, Beverley and Southampton stores.

  2. I agree with the comments made by Richard Ambler. I too saw the interview on Breakfast TV and as a retailer myself of 50 years experience (the last 25 at board level) I found the outgoing CEO’s comments to be of an individual in denial and could not quite believe that an individual in that post could be so blasé about both the sorry state of their stores and the ‘insult pricing’ strategy that they adopt in their ‘travel’ stores . The retail standards in WHS high street stores has, for at least the last 10+ years, been nothing short of abysmal. In what should be their flagship store on 120 Oxford Street London W1 (just a couple of years back) I wrote my name in the thick dust on a promotional sign over a prominent display of computer accessories. It was still there a full month later. Nothing has changed in the interim, every one of their high street stores I visit is either dirty or untidy or both and their ranges lack focus. They have deliberately under invested in their estate on the high street and have quietly exited where they have had the opportunity. Their main attention has been focussed on the ‘Travel’ stores in airports, train stations and motorway service centres where they charge extortionate prices for soft drinks, snacks and other convenience items to boost their profits. Their like for like sales, in their high street stores, have been in decline in each of the last 10+ years and their only success is from growing sales and profits by ‘exploiting’ the captive traveller who usually is in the situation of ‘pay the price or go without’. The CEO’s explanation that they suffer higher rents and other operating costs in the travel locations might well be true but not to an extent that could justify the prices they charge. I for one would never shop WHS ever purely because of their ‘over the top’ differential pricing. They should take a leaf out of Pret a Manger’s pricing policy who charge the same prices in all their outlets whether in Central London high streets, railway stations or market towns. McDonalds have the same pricing model as Pret a Manger.

  3. WHS high street stores are drab and tired. Their business strategy is to simply “sell space”. They charge suppliers extortionate terms, their merchandising is poor and ranges lack any sort of innovation. The Travel stores are better (but not by much). These wouldn’t survive without the guaranteed footfall of the captured traveller

  4. I’ve never seen a store so scruffy as the one in bedford
    After I bought a DVD I got home and they hadn’t removed the security tag
    When I went back a man went to remove it was gone for 15 mins he came back and thrust it at me and said here!
    No apology either
    They charge the earth for books
    The shelf s are full of expensive chocolate
    When I was served the man serving me had very bad body odour and had bad breath
    No one ever seems to shop in there either
    I bought a travel book and was expensive when I questioned the price I was told it was because of brexit And should go to Waterstones


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