First launched in UK airports back in 2013, WHSmith has opened its first kids’ travel brand Zoodle in a Chinese airport. The new kids’ store at Changsha Huanghua airport is operating via a franchise partnership with La Source Commercial Co. Ltd.
The retailer plans to open further Zoodle stores throughout China this summer, at Tianjin Binhai, Ürümqi Diwopu and Beijing Daxing international airports. The new stores are ‘the latest Zoodle store concept’ selling toys, books and snacks from brands such as Lego, Mattel, V-tech, Richelieu and Gincho, and will feature an exclusive stationery range for children, according to TRBusiness.
The Group’s Australian site, whsmith.com.au, describes Zoodle as a brand that will “send you on your travels with a smile,” and continues: “Whether you’re looking to keep the kids entertained on the flight, or looking for the perfect gift, we’ve got everything for the young and the young at heart.”
WHSmith has been open about its ambitious plans for the Group’s travel arm, and reported strong profit growth in its interim results for the six months ended 28 February 2019. At the time of the interim report, International Travel had 425 units open.
The Group’s interim report went into detail about its plans for InMotion, a digital and travel accessories retailer in US airports, which it acquired in November 2018, but made no mention of its strategy to open Zoodle outlets in China.
Louis de Bourgoing, international chairman at WHSmith, commented: “We now have both WHSmith and Zoodle brands franchised in China which cements our vision to become a leading travel retailer within our categories.”
Fan Xianming, founder and general manager at La Source Commercial Co. Ltd, added: “We have been steadily growing our distribution business in China within the quickly growing travel retail sectors. Over the past few years, we were keen to develop a focused business line within the toys and kids’ market.
“With this intent, we saw good synergies with WHSmith’s proprietary kids’ brand, Zoodle. We believe that WHSmith has strong international expertise and know-how to operate and with their Zoodle brand, we could leverage our local insights to develop and grow rapidly in China.”