WH Smith agrees to buy US travel retailer Marshall Retail Group

17 October 2019 (Last Updated October 17th, 2019 15:35)

British retailer WH Smith has entered an agreement to purchase US travel retailer Marshall Retail Group (MRG) for $400m.

British retailer WH Smith has entered an agreement to purchase US travel retailer Marshall Retail Group (MRG) for $400m.

Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, MRG operates travel retail channels in airports, resorts, and tourist locations. It currently has 170 stores, including 59 airport locations, in North America.

The company has also signed agreements to open a further 33 new airport stores by the end of 2024 enabling it to expand its airport retail presence by adding approximately 43,000ft² selling space.

The cash and debt-free basis deal is expected to double the size of WH Smith’s International Travel business. It will help accelerate its growth in the US airport travel retail market, and strengthen its existing operations, including InMotion.

Marshall Retail Group CEO Michael C Wilkins said: “I feel very proud to announce that we have reached an agreement with UK-based retailer WH Smith to acquire Marshall Retail Group.

“This is an incredible milestone for our business and is a testament to the outstanding team at MRG. We are proud of our success, particularly our recent growth in airports, and I’m especially excited about the potential this unlocks for MRG in the years to come.

“We very much look forward to working with such an established and successful global business, with a strong heritage, as we continue on our journey together to drive both businesses forward.”

The British retailer is planning to finance the transaction through a combination of new debt and equity. It will raise approximately £155m through an underwritten equity placing, and fund the remaining consideration through a new debt facility.

The transaction, currently subject to the shareholder approval, is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

WH Smith will allow Marshall Retail Group’s existing management team to continue operate the business from its Las Vegas headquarters.

In addition, WH Smith Group has named Carl Cowling as its chief executive. Cowling will take charge from 1 November.

Cowling said: “I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Michael Wilkins and the entire team across the Marshall Retail Group to the WH Smith Group and we look forward to working together to further develop our business across North America.”

In October last year, WH Smith signed a deal to buy 100% of the share capital of airport-based digital accessories retailer InMotion for $198m.