WH Smith to double its international travel business with acquisition of US–based InMotion

British retailer WH Smith has announced the acquisition of US-based travel retailer InMotion for US$198m. The acquisition marks a significant step in WH Smith’s international travel growth strategy, says the company.

InMotion is the largest airport-based digital accessories retailer in North America. Established in 1998, it operates a portfolio of 114 stores across 43 airports in the US, with a presence in 22 of the top 25 busiest US airports.

InMotion sells a range of digital accessories including headphones and earbuds, travel accessories, mobile power units, portable speakers and action cameras.

In the calendar year to date, InMotion has delivered like-for-like sales growth of 13%, following like-for-like growth of 12% in calendar year 2017. For the financial year ending 31 December 2018, InMotion is expected to deliver sales of approximately US$166 million, and EBITDA of approximately US$23 million.

WH Smith’s travel arm has delivered more than 10 consecutive years of profit growth and now generates two thirds of the group’s operating profit.

International travel forms a key part of the group’s future growth and InMotion was identified as an attractive acquisition in this context.

InMotion will continue to operate as a standalone business as part of WH Smith’s international travel business. The senior management team of InMotion will continue to lead the business, including Jeremy Smith, who has been the CEO for 12 years.

Following the transaction, WH Smith will benefit from InMotion’s existing infrastructure and business development capabilities, to support the launch and growth of WH Smith’s airport format in North America.

Stephen Clarke, group chief executive, WH Smith, said, “… The acquisition of InMotion is an exciting value creation opportunity for the WH Smith Group and marks a major step in our international travel retail growth strategy. It doubles the size of our international travel business and provides us with attractive growth opportunities.

“The travel retail market in North America for digital accessories offers significant growth potential. As the market leader, recognized for its best-in-class customer service, InMotion is well positioned to take advantage of that potential.

“In addition, InMotion provides us with a scalable platform to launch the WH Smith airport format into the USA, the world’s largest travel retail market for news, books and convenience products.”

Jeremy Smith, president and CEO of InMotion, added, “The team at InMotion are delighted to be joining such an iconic business with a high growth international division.

“Working together, we look forward to combining our expertise in travel retail to grow the InMotion business further both within and outside of the USA, while at the same time accelerating WH Smith’s international growth strategy.”