Tuesday 19 September 2017

Sales volumes up as Irish authors prove a draw for store

Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness
Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness
Author Anne Enright
Colm Tóibín

Gordon Deegan

Bumper sales of books by Irish authors helped the Irish arm of WH Smith to enjoy record sales last year of €26.85m.

New accounts filed by WH Smith Ireland show that pre-tax profits declined by 38.5pc, from €1.8m to €1.1m in the 12 months to the end of August last.

During the year, revenues increased by 13pc, from €23.69m to €26.8m.

The drop in profit was as a result of expansion costs, with the numbers employed by the business last year increasing from 87 to 107.

Staff costs rose from €2.59m to €2.83m.

WH Smith won the contract to run shops in Dublin Airport's Terminal One in August 2013 and the firm benefited last year from the record 27.9 million passengers who went through the airport in 2016.

The WH Smith business in Ireland was also helped by the books market here growing in 2016.

According to Neilsen, the year's big hitters included Louise O'Neill's 'Asking for It' (8th), Ross O'Carroll Kelly's 'Game of Throw-Ins'(3rd) and Anne Enright's 'The Green Road' (7th).

Sales at WH Smith also benefited during the year under review from big sales with 'Until Victory Always' by former Donegal GAA manager Jim McGuinness; 'Brooklyn' by Colm Tóibín and Joe Duffy's 'The Children of the Rising'.

The profit last year takes account of non-cash deprecation costs of €465,566. The firm's rental payments jumped from €5.34m to €6.1m.

The firm's shareholder funds at the end of August last year totalled €4.84m. The firm's cash pile halved, going from €6.4m to €3.3m.

The firm increased its gross profit from €11.92m to €12.7m after cost of sales increased from €11.7m to €14m.

The firm recorded post-tax profits of €978,111 after incurring a tax charge of €136,304.

The company's distribution costs totalled €10.6m and €976,596 in administrative expenses.

In 2009, WH Smith opened its first two stores at Shannon Airport before opening its outlets in Dublin Airport.

The strong performance by WH Smith here last year offers further confirmation of the benefits to UK booksellers of expanding into Ireland.

Earlier this month, Waterstones Ireland report that it doubled its profits to €1.9m as revenues increased by 7pc to €14.2m in the 12 months to the end of April last.

As a result, the chief executive of Waterstones, James Daunt, said that the firm was to reinvest in its Irish stores and is ready to expand once more.

"We are just beginning to look at properties and any expansion will be a local initiative," he said.

Irish Independent

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