Business Case Studies, Managing in Troubled Times Case Study, WH Smith Plc.,The British Retailer in Trouble

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Managing in Troubled Times Case Study

Case Title:

WH Smith Plc.: The British Retailer in Trouble

Publication Year : 2004

Authors: Firdaus Maldar, G Srikanth

Industry: Retailing


Case Code: TRT0003

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Available

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Established in 1792, WH Smith PLC (WH Smith) is a leading book retailer in Great Britain. Its main businesses include retailing, news distribution and publishing. For over two centuries, book lovers have thronged its stores in search of bestsellers, hard-to-find classics and a wide range of magazines. Its stores at airports and train stations provide reading material for the travellers. In recent years, the increase in competition from supermarkets and specialist retailers has caused a decline in WH Smith's fortunes.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To discuss WH Smith's various problems and the causes of those problems
  • To discuss various strategies for the reversal in WH Smith’s fortunes.

Keywords : WH Smith PLC; British retailing industry; News distribution; Publishing; Pension liabilities; School book funding crisis; Hodder Headline; Kate Swann; Retailing and distribution; Retail business; Turnaround strategy; Managing in Troubled Times Case Study; WH Smith stores; Travel retail business; Net book agreement, price controls; Newspaper; Magazine wholesaler


  • Background
  • Whsmith's business sectors
  • Retailing
  • News distribution
  • Publishing

  • Whsmith's downward slide
  • Causes for the downward slide
  • Efforts for a turnaround and takeover bid

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