WHSmith accused of hiking prices at hospitals
Shop forcing people to pay almost double for some items in hospital stores

A4 notepad was £12.99 in hospital outlet compared to £8.99 on High Street

MP Paula Sherriff called the practice ‘exploitative’ and ‘completely unfair’

Comes after company demanded boarding cards at airports without passing on VAT savings 

By Steph Cockroft for MailOnline
Published: 07:40, 25 August 2015 | Updated: 09:24, 25 August 2015
WHSmith has been accused of exploiting patients by charging up to 45 per cent more in hospital stores than on the High Street.
The retailer is making NHS staff, patients and visitors pay nearly double for items such as water and notepads than they would in its traditional stores.
It comes just weeks after the company came under fire for demanding boarding cards at airports without passing on VAT savings to passengers.
WHSmith has been accused of exploiting patients by charging up to 45 per cent more in hospital stores than on the High Street

WHSmith has been accused of exploiting patients by charging up to 45 per cent more in hospital stores than on the High Street
The Independent found that a 750ml bottle of Evian water was £1.39 at its store in Hammersmith, west London, while the same item was sold for £1.69 at St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster. 
Meanwhile, an A4 notepad which sold for £8.99 on the High Street was sold for £12.99 in the hospital store – an increase of 44 per cent. 
The company has defended its practice, insisting prices are higher because hospitals demand a percentage of sales, rather than ground rent.
But Labour MP Paula Sherriff, who sits on the health select committee and used to work for the NHS, has written to the company demanding an explanation.
She said: ‘It’s exploitative and completely unfair. People are at their lowest ebb in hospital and it is simply taking advantage.’ 
According to the BBC, WHSmith was charging £1.89 for a 750ml bottle of water at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, while it was selling for £1 in one of the company’s city centre shop.
Prices of some products were significantly higher at St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster (pictured) than on the High Street 

Prices of some products were significantly higher at St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster (pictured) than on the High Street 
In South Wales, customers were charged £2.99 for a pack of Minstrels at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, while the same item was being sold for around £2 in other branches.
The chain was also charging 99p for a can of coke, compared to its 65p price on the high street. 
A 750ml bottle of Evian water was £1.39 at the WHSmith store in Hammersmith while the same item was sold for £1.69 at St Thomas’ Hospital

A 750ml bottle of Evian water was £1.39 at the WHSmith store in Hammersmith while the same item was sold for £1.69 at St Thomas’ Hospital

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the prices were ‘morally wrong’. 
‘I am shocked because they are targetting the wrong people: poorly paid staff and patients,’ she said. 
A WHSmith spokesman said the higher ‘occupation costs’ and longer opening hours led to the increased rates.

  
They also said that fixed prices on magazines and newspapers meant prices had to be raised elsewhere. 
They said: ‘Occupation costs in our hospital locations can be up to 40 per cent of sales, materially higher than the fixed margins we make on newspaper and magazines. 
‘In Pontefract Hospital, our occupancy costs are almost 60 per cent of sales resulting in a material loss in that store.
‘Despite this, we are committed to continuing to serve our customers in locations such as this.’ 

Retail outlets have become increasingly common in many hospitals in recent years. 
Some NHS trusts receive a flat fee for leasing out space within their buildings, while others get a percentage of the shop’s revenue. 
WHSmith has spent the past decade focusing on these stores as high street shops fall into decline.
Last year, it raked in £72m from its travel operations which are now bigger than its high street business. 

Earlier this week, analysis claimed that the company pockets up to £10million a year by failing to pass VAT discounts from airport shops to consumers in its airport stores. 
Details of the alleged windfall come amid a passenger revolt against stores using boarding passes to claim 20 per cent VAT exemptions from those flying from the UK to outside the EU. 

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Posted on August 26, 2015, in #retail, #uk, How not to do retail ..... Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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