WH Smith may cut up to 1,500 jobs in UK restructuring

Adds CEO quote, details on cash burn, sales, outlook, share move

Aug 5 (Reuters) - British retailer WH Smith SMWH.L said on Wednesday it could cut up to 1,500 jobs as part of a restructuring of its UK store operations due to a coronavirus-driven fall in customers at its travel and high street shops.

The company said it expected to deliver a headline pretax loss of between 70 million pounds ($91.60 million) and 75 million pounds for the year ending Aug. 31, compared with a headline pretax profit of 155 million pounds last year.

Shares in the company rose higher on the announcement and were up 4.4% at 1,029 pence by 0850 GMT.

"In our Travel business, while we are beginning to see early signs of recovery in some of our markets, the speed of recovery continues to be slow...while there has been some progress in our High Street business, it does continue to be adversely affected by low levels of footfall," Chief Executive Officer Carl Cowling said.

The company, founded more than 200 years ago as a news vendor in London, posted a 57% plunge in July revenue, a smaller drop than in the three consecutive months before it, signalling a recovery as its shops reopen.

WH Smith said its July cash burn on an underlying basis was between 15 million pounds and 20 million pounds and that it has enough funds to operate throughout a prolonged downturn in its markets.

($1 = 0.7642 pounds)

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Rashmi Aich)

((tanishaa.nadkar@thomsonreuters.com; +919730172534; Twitter - @TanishaaNadkar;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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