WHSmith plc

About WHSmith

With over three million square feet of selling space and stores ranging in size from 770 square feet to more than 25,000 square feet, WHSmith serves over 320 million customers in their High Street stores every year.

  • WHSmith Travel sells a tailored range of Newspapers, Magazines, Books and Impulse products for people on the move in airports, railway and bus stations and a broader convenience range in hospitals and workplaces
  • WHSmith currently operates over 619 travel outlets, including over 15 units in around 40 airports such as Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Dublin, Delhi, Hyderabad, Muscat, Melbourne, Sydney and Kuala Lumpur
  • Internationally, the company currently operates stores in 11 countries outside of the UK:  Ireland, France, Denmark, Sweden, Gibraltar, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, India , Australia and Malaysia

Background

Mark Robbins has been with WHSmith for over 20 years and is currently Head of Procurement with responsibility for all GNFR procurement, car fleets and IT budgets on a group-wide basis.  His involvement with leasing has spanned many years covering a broad range of different asset types. Long ago, Mark recognised the specialist nature of leasing and potential pitfalls and welcomed an approach offering unbiased assistance.

Assistance Provided

LeaseSolution Director, Vince Baczor, was personally responsible for the relationship with WHSmith plc over a period of more than 14 years, whilst working with a previous company that he founded. During that time, he also designed and developed a lease management system that was used for client service delivery.

As the relationship evolved, Mark came to rely upon complete support for every related aspect of WHSmith leasing activities, including:

  • Considering and assessing new leasing providers
  • Changing or restructuring existing leases
  • Negotiating new leases
  • Monitoring existing leases
  • Preparation for end of lease positions, allowing timely assessment and planning relative to business requirements
  • Unbiased advice and firm specialist recommendations
  • The WHSmith portfolio was organised and contained within a  lease management system, allowing access to lease information for ongoing reference and reporting purposes

“Any lease we have done where Vince has been involved, we know the T’s&C’s will be favourable to us.  He makes sure we are not being taken for a ride.”

“We know our limitations internally; we understand what leasing is and about 5% of the detail.  We need help to provide the specialist knowledge and current market understanding.”

The Benefits to WHSmith

Mark believes the relationship was very much founded on trust – both in the specialist knowledge provided and trust in motivation. Independence from all leasing providers and finance houses was a critical factor.

“We have the utmost trust in Vince. His company is totally independent, they have nothing to gain by pushing us in a certain direction and everything to lose if our trust goes.“

Mark recognised that the benefits in using Vince and his company as lease portfolio managers far outweighed the costs and gave:

  • Global leasing consistency
  • Negotiated, good balanced deals every time
  • The knowledge that every conceivable risk had been mitigated
  • Favourable, reasonable and consistent T’s&C’s
  • Secondary period issues always avoided
  • Availability whether involved at the outset or last minute
  • Continued leasing education for WHSmith
  • The benefit of Vince’s experience and constantly updated market knowledge
  • All possible cost savings identified for all assets types
  • Having fun doing business together

A win-win situation.” Mark also appreciated the personal commitment that a small company provided.

“I can ring Vince any time and no matter where he is in the world, he will respond and do whatever it takes to get us into the position where we are OK – leasing is risky otherwise.”

He is part of the team I need for effective leasing – no lease will happen in this business without Vince’s involvement. I wouldn’t feel safe. It would be like walking a tightrope without a safety net.”.

LeaseSolution

LeaseSolution was established in 2012 to provide specialist software and services to assist clients in better managing their leases themselves. For further details call +44 20 7183 1475, or email info@leasesolution.net.