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WHSmith kits out 100 stores with digital screens

High street retailer WHSmith is introducing digital display screens to 100 of its UK stores, as it looks to modernise its shop fronts.

Digital signage will give the stationery and bookseller an updated platform to market its products, services and third-party messaging.

The digital displays are delivered on 55-inch LCD screens, with the first instalment taking place over the Easter weekend in the WHSmith Harrow store. The retailer expects to roll out the technology to all 100 participating stores by the end of May.

Activate Solutions Group-owned StreetAd is responsible for the provision of the screens, operating the network and securing third-party advertising and sponsorship deals.

Ian Sanders, group commercial development director at WHSmith, said the screens will give stores "advertising and communication standout", while at the same time providing a new commercial platform for the business "with complete compliance and control".

WHSmith's investment in the store environment follows recent public criticism of some of its high street interiors. Over the last three years, the Twitter account @WHS_Carpet has attracted a following of over 7,000 people by providing an online forum for consumers to share pictures and comment on untidy store scenes.

The social media page has emerged during a prolonged period of WHSmith recording quarterly profit rises despite falling sales, defined by various cost savings and efficiency measures and a burgeoning global travel hub operation. The recent Christmas period saw group sales rise, however, and with its profit guidance for this year rising as a result, the future appears positive.

Off the back of the encouraging festive results in January, WHSmith group CEO Stephen Clarke said: "Looking forward, profitable growth and cash generation will remain central to our plans allowing us to invest in new opportunities for the future."

The move to install digital screens in its shop windows is one that is replicated by very few other high street players in the UK, and it represents something of a new strategy for WHSmith centred on the in-store customer experience.

StreetAd and Activate CEO, Mike Cottman, commented: "With WHSmith leading the way, we're confident other retail groups will follow.

"The time has come for digital screens to replace paper posters. In addition, screens such as these can provide a live platform which can be used to enhance social communication with local customers, as well as deliver voucher issuance and redemption opportunities for retailers, consumers and advertisers in the local area."

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Activate Solutions Group

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