WH Smith

WHSmith said full-year profits would be towards the top end of market forecasts as its travel business continues to recover, providing some rare positive news in a sector that has been battered by concerns about the rising cost of living (The Financial Times £).

The company, which was battered during the pandemic by restrictions that grounded planes, closed shops and reduced footfall at its most profitable stores, said that its travel business was now performing strongly and it expected this to carry on during the peak summer period (The Times £).

WH Smith was the FTSE 250’s top riser on Wednesday morning after the retailer revealed sales had surpassed pre-Covid levels, buoyed by the travel sector recovery (The Mail).

Two investment firms are set to abandon their pursuit of ecommerce retailer THG, presenting a fresh setback for the company’s investors (The Financial Times £).

Sainsbury’s has escalated its price war against the German discounters as soaring living costs weigh on shoppers (The Telegraph). The UK’s second largest supermarket chain said it would match Aldi prices for its top 20 best selling lines, adding to the number of items included in its campaign.

Food price rises in the UK could hit 15% this summer – the highest level in more than 20 years – with inflation lasting into the middle of next year, according to a report by grocery trade body IGD (The Guardian).

The world’s hundreds of millions of noodle eaters face a rise in the price of their favourite meal as producers look set to heap surging wheat, energy and transport costs on to consumers (The Guardian).

Unilever faces fresh criticism from one of its largest shareholders, who claims the consumer goods giant is suffering from “long Covid” that has left its performance “pedestrian” (The Telegraph). Nick Train, from Lindsell Train Investment Trust, said the Hellmann’s maker “looks to have contracted a case of ‘long Covid’”, citing its exposure to emerging markets.

Unilever is being sued by a US investor over claims it hid a boycott of Israel by its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand that wiped billions of US dollars off its stock market value (The Telegraph). According to the proposed class action in Manhattan federal court, Unilever improperly concealed the decision before it was announced, recognising that many US states might divest from companies that support anti-Israel boycotts, yet stood behind it once the news became public.

An opinion column in The Financial Times (£) says that Boots is a “cautionary tale of how buyout boom went bad”. The chemist chain is not a business that can be fixed by some fancy financing, the paper writes.

Wine from the Sussex region has been awarded protected status (The Times £). The official recognition means that wines labelled with “Sussex” must be grown in either East or West Sussex and pass tests by an independent tasting panel.

Temporary silos will be built along the Ukraine border, including in Poland, in an attempt to help export more grain from the country and avert a global food crisis, Joe Biden has announced (The Guardian).

A competition to win free beer for Father’s Day circulating on WhatsApp is a scam, Heineken has said (BBC News).

The Financial Times (£) carries a Q&A with the founder of vegan meal delivery firm Allplants.