WHSmith’s largest investor increases stake in hopes of travel recovery

WHSmith
WHSmith chief executive Carl Cowling said the “trajectory of the recovery in travel remains uncertain”
// WHSmith’s biggest shareholder has increased its stake in the retailer
// Causeway Capital Management owns 9% after buying shares
// The firm hopes for a recovery in international travel

WHSmith’s biggest shareholder has increased its stake in the retailer in hopes of a recovery in international travel.

Causeway Capital Management owns nine per cent after buying shares in the wake of a recent profit alert.

The activist investor is now calling for a shake-up at Rolls-Royce after increasing its stake in WHSmith, but insisted it was supportive of management at the struggling high street chain.


READ MORE: WHSmith warns on future profit uncertainty despite improving trends


WHSmith has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic as trade in its previously successful stores in airports and railway stations collapsed on the back of travel restrictions and remote working.

It had also acquired the US travel retail chain Marshall Retail several months before the first lockdown.

WHSmith shares lost almost two-thirds of their value at the onset of the pandemic and the company’s response to the crisis included cutting 1500 jobs.

It has a global workforce of 14,000 and shares have since recovered to £15.07, which is 37 per cent below their pre-Covid level.

At the start of September, WHSmith chief executive Carl Cowling said the “trajectory of the recovery in travel remains uncertain” and that profits in the year to August 2022 would be at the low end of market expectations.

Last month, Causeway’s portfolio manager, Jonathan Eng called for boardroom change at Rolls-Royce, where it is the biggest shareholder.

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