WH Smith PLC has acquired Marshall Retail Group, a leading and fast-growing US travel retailer, for c.€361m (£312m). MRG currently operates 170 stores in North America, with 59 of these inside airports, and generates the majority of its revenue through the sale of news, gifts and convenience products. MRG’s future growth prospects are underpinned by its highly successful airport travel retail business, which has a rapidly increasing footprint. With a further 33 new airport stores expected to open by the end of 2024 following a series of successful tenders, MRG is expected to add approximately 43,000ft² of airport retail selling space, representing an increase of more than 75% from its current airport footprint of approximately 54,000ft². These awarded stores provide clear visibility into future growth, with WH Smith expecting MRG to deliver a double-digit sales CAGR from 2020E through 2024E.
Carl Cowling, WH Smith Group Chief Executive effective 1 November 2019, commented: “We are delighted to announce today the proposed acquisition of Marshall Retail Group. MRG is a highly successful US travel retailer with a fast-growing airport business. This acquisition will accelerate the growth of our International Travel business and combined with InMotion, the market-leading digital accessories airport retailer that we acquired last year, will significantly enhance our scale and growth opportunities in the US, a large and fast-growing travel retail market. This is an exciting value-creating opportunity, entirely in line with our strategy. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Michael Wilkins, CEO, 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.”
Michael C. Wilkins, Marshall Retail Group CEO, added: “I feel very proud to announce that we have reached an agreement with UK based retailer, WH Smith, to acquire Marshall Retail Group. WH Smith is one of the world’s oldest retailers with close to 1,600 stores across the world. 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.”