WHSmith to buy US travel retailer for £312m as sales rise 11%

WHSmith Inmotion Marshall Retail Group
In the year to August 31, WHSmith's travel sales rose 22%
// WHSmith to buy Marshall Retail Group for £312m
// In the year to August 31, WHSmith sales rose 11% across the entire business

WHSmith is set to buy US travel retailer Marshall Retail Group (MRG) for $400 million (£312 million), after reporting a sales rise across the entire business.

The British retailer said the deal will push the growth of its international travel arm.

The deal also means WHSmith’s international business will double in size, as MRG currently has 170 stores in North America, of which 59 are within airports.

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Earlier this year, WHSmith acquired another US travel retailer, InMotion, for £155 million and opened the first UK branch in mid-August at Leeds Bradford Airport.

“This acquisition will accelerate the growth of our international travel business and combined with InMotion, the market leading digital accessories airport retailer that we acquired last year, will significantly enhance our scale and growth opportunities in the US, a large and fast growing travel retail market,” incoming WHSmith chief executive Carl Cowling said.

Cowling takes over from Stephen Clarke, who joined the retailer in 2014 and has managed both its travel and high street arms.

In the year to August 31, WHSmith saw sales rise 11 per cent across the entire business, with travel sales up 22 per cent, but its high street division was down two per cent to £580 million.

Pre-tax profits were up one per cent to £135 million during the period.

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