It's all about
the journey.

Our History

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Our STORY so far…

Our journey has taken us from our very first store in London to hundreds of locations in almost every corner of the world. Along the way, we’ve also been responsible for some of retail’s biggest and most exciting moments too. Here’s what we’ve achieved since 1792…

230 years in milestones

  • 1792

    Henry and Anna Walton Smith open a small news vendors on Little Grosvenor Street in London.

  • 1848

    We open our very first book stall just down the road in Euston.

  • 1850

    Our hard work pays off as we’re recognised as the principal newspaper distributor in the country.

  • 1903

    We sail our big idea for retail across the channel and open our first overseas store in Paris.

  • 1973

    We develop our iconic logo, pairing brown and orange in true 70’s style.

  • 1995

    We take the very first secure online order in the UK on 27th April, blazing the trail for online shopping across the country.

  • 1997

    We help our UK Travel Retail arm spread its wings as a separate business.

  • 1999

    We make sure we’re ready for the internet shopping boom by launching WHSmith Online at whsmith.co.uk

  • 2006

    We de-merged our Retail and News distribution businesses.

  • 2007

    We deliver the big news that we're welcoming Post Offices into our High Street stores, cementing our position at the heart of the communities we serve.

  • 2010

    We acquire funkypigeon.com and get set to fly into the world of online personalised gifting and cards.

  • 2012

    Over in Australia, we acquire a cafe business called ‘Fresh+’, and begin our journey in food retailing.

  • 2014

    A momentous year as we open our 100th international store.

  • 2016

    We deliver even more big news - that another 61 Post Offices are joining our High Street stores.

  • 2017

    We celebrate our 225th anniversary with a commitment to raising £2m for charities this year.

  • 2018

    We take another big hop on our overseas journey by acquiring InMotion, a pure play travel retailer based in US airports.

  • 2019

    Carl Cowling is appointed Group Chief Executive. Across the pond, we acquire another US based travel retailer, Marshall Retail Group (MRG), with a Support Centre based in Las Vegas.

  • 2020

    As Covid-19 brings the world to a halt, we keep our doors open for local communities, support frontline NHS workers in our hospital stores, and donate thousands of our products to key workers and good causes.

  • 2021

    Our journey picks up pace as we announce that we have won 30 new tech stores across UK airports under our InMotion brand, making us the largest tech retailer in travel locations globally.

  • 2022

    We celebrate our 230th birthday and close the year in our strongest ever position as a global travel retailer with a further 150 stores won and due to open across the globe.

  • 2023

    We open our new flagship one-stop-shop for travel essentials at Birmingham airport – our largest UK Travel store – with an unrivalled world-class format which is set to redefine the travel retail experience across UK airports.