WH Smith has acquired hospital c-store chain United News Shops for £19m.

United News Shops was 21st on The Grocer’s Top 50 poll of independent grocery retailers. It has 72 stores and eight coffee shops and reported sales of £36.4m last year.

WH Smith, which already has seven hospital stores, said the acquisition would “significantly strengthen” its presence in the sector.

“The hospital channel is under developed and the combination of the experienced UNS management team and the WH Smith brand and offer will bring benefits for customers,” said WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann.