(Reuters) -WH Smith, a British retailer with stores in travel hubs across Europe and America, said on Wednesday its revenue had risen over the last 20 weeks as more people travelled over the Christmas holidays, the first not marred by COVID restrictions.
The travel industry has seen a sharp rebound over the course of last year as offices reopened and more people undertook leisure trips after months of pandemic restrictions, although rail strikes in Britain caused some disruptions in the sector.
WH Smith, which sells everything from sandwiches to Bluetooth headphones, said total group revenue increased by 41% year-over-year for the 20 weeks to Jan. 14, and by 20% compared with 2019.
"This strength, combined with the ongoing improvement in passenger numbers across the globe, means that we are confident of another year of significant growth in 2023," Chief Executive Officer Carl Cowling said in a trading statement.
The company said overall passenger numbers remained well below 2019 levels. But while revenue from its stores at UK airports rose 35% from pre-pandemic levels, revenue from its rail stores dropped 13%.
WH Smith had reinstated its dividend in November after its annual profit slightly beat market expectations, signalling an improved outlook in travel patterns.
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil and Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)