New bosses of WH Smith and Greggs are set to explain their strategies

The new bosses of retailers WH Smith and Greggs will explain their strategies when the two companies report figures next week

Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs
Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs

The new bosses of retailers WH Smith and Greggs will explain their strategies when the two companies report figures next week.

WH Smith’s new chief executive Steve Clarke will unveil his first set of annual results for the retailer on Thursday after taking over the top job in July. He replaced well-respected former boss Kate Swann, following five years as head of the group’s high street operations.

His inaugural full-year figures are expected to show further solid progress for the book and stationery chain, with analysts predicting a 5% increase in pre-tax profits to £107 million.

WH Smith has been following a winning formula in recent years of keeping a tight lid on costs and focusing on profitable products to offset sluggish high street trading - a strategy it has repeated in the year to August 31.

The group said in August that its high street business was holding firm despite tough comparisons from a year earlier, when there was a strong book publishing schedule.

It added the travel business had also seen a “good performance” thanks to new business wins in the UK and internationally.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank said Mr Clarke was expected to continue the strategy pioneered by Ms Swann, who turned around the company’s fortunes by stripping out sales of DVDs and CDs in favour of stationery, cards, news and books. They are looking for further details on more cost-cutting and on new travel business contracts.There may also be an update on its recent trial franchising its brand to independent newsagents as a potential way to expand its network.

Struggling bakery chain Greggs will update the City on the progress of its turnaround plan when it issues its latest trading statement on Wednesday. The Newcastle-based business, which has already issued two profits warnings this year, is in the midst of an overhaul led by chief executive Roger Whiteside, who was drafted in to lead the company in February. Greggs said at the time of its latest update that it was hoping for better news in the weeks ahead, after its recovery plan took a knock in the heatwave.

Like-for-like sales drifted 2.9% lower in the first half-year to the end of June though within the period, the second quarter saw an improvement.


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