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WH Smith trims monthly cash burn estimate as online sales surge

Mar 9, 2021

(Reuters) – Retailer WH Smith said on Tuesday a surge in online sales during Britain’s latest lockdown had bolstered its overall performance and helped it trim its monthly cash burn projection.

The company, which sells everything from books and sandwiches to Bluetooth headphones, now estimates 12 million pounds ($16.60 million) to 17 million pounds in monthly cash burn between January and March.

It had previously estimated a range of 15 million pounds to 20 million pounds.

Founded more than 200 years ago as a news vendor in London, the company has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced it to announce up to 1,500 job cuts last year.

The company said high street revenue was at 74% of its 2019 levels for January and at 84% of 2019 levels for February and that its online greeting cards business,, saw record sales for Valentine’s day.

Revenue at its travel business, which includes its airport and train station shops and kiosks, was 35% of 2019 levels for January and 33% of 2019 levels in February.

The company also said it had extended the maturity of its two existing 200 million pound term loans to October 2023 and agreed to new minimum liquidity covenant tests.

WH Smith said these changes have enabled it to cancel its existing 120 million pound liquidity loan, which was not drawn and was due to expire in November 2021.

Shares of the company were up 2.3% at 1,939.9 pence in early trade.

($1 = 0.7231 pounds)

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)