According to WH Smith's 2017 annual report, viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, the company's two executive directors, Stephen Clarke and Robert Moorhead, received payments totalling £3.7 million and £2.5 million, respectively. Ethical Consumer considered payments over £1 million to be excessive. WH Smith therefore lost half a mark under Anti-Social Finance.


2017 annual report (16 August 2018)

An article in The Independent newspaper on 12 August 2015 reported that treasury ministers had demanded an end to rip-off VAT charges by some airport stores. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury told The Independent he was concerned and disappointed that some of Britain’s top retailers were pocketing millions of pounds in VAT discounts without passing the savings to customers.

Passengers’ boarding passes were required to be shown in some cases, and the information was used by stores to avoid paying 20 per cent VAT on everything they sold to customers who were travelling outside the European Union. Most of these stores, including WH Smith, did not pass on the savings to passengers.

The Treasury Secretary said the intention behind VAT relief at airports was to help passengers and not to line the pockets of retailers – and called for the practice to stop. “The VAT relief at airports is intended to reduce prices for travellers not as a windfall gain for shops,” he said.

Many passengers claimed to have been misled by airport shop staff who told them presenting a boarding card was obligatory – and even required for security purposes.


Airport VAT scam: Treasury ministers demand end to rip-off charges and to pass savings on to passeng