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Monday, 5 March, 2001, 07:13 GMT
WH Smith 'to sell' newspaper business
shop front of WH Smith
Magazine and newspaper sales have disappointed
The UK's largest newsagent, WH Smith, has formally put its newspaper and magazine distribution arm up for sale, according to a report in the Times newspaper.

A memorandum of sale is to be forwarded to interested parties in around six weeks time.

WH Smith hopes to raise 300m ($440m) from the sale of this arm of its business.

The newsagent is one of the nation's best known shops and sells a wide range of stationery as well as some electrical items.

Disappointing growth

As well as stocking traditional newspapers, it is well known for its selection of specialist magazines.


Trading is likely to remain difficult given the soft magazine market

WH Smith
But in its latest trading statement, the company called its growth in the news distribution unit 'disappointing'.

In the 20 weeks leading up to 20 January 2001, the company reported growing retail sales of 6%, an excellent performance of 16% growth in the publishing sector, but only 1% growth overall in news distribution.

"Sales in core categories have been weak, with sales of magazines down by 1% and newspaper sales flat. Trading is likely to remain difficult given the soft magazine market," said the company in a statement.

WH Smith has over 1,200 stores worldwide employing 27,500 people in 11 countries.

At the end of February, it renewed a three-year distribution contract with magazine sales company Frontline to deliver 30% of its business.

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