Backlash after WH Smith renames itself 'WHS' in 'baffling' rebrand, as customers say logo looks like the NHS

27 December 2023, 19:17 | Updated: 27 December 2023, 19:20

WH Smith in Preston is one of the stores to be rebranded
WH Smith in Preston is one of the stores to be rebranded. Picture: Twitter/Lewis Middleton

By Kit Heren

WHSmith has suffered a backlash after renaming itself 'WHS', with onlookers claiming the new logo looks too similar to the NHS.

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The British newsagent chain has changed signage on ten stores, including in York and Preston, to abbreviated versions of the full name.

WH Smith has not said whether it will expand the change to the rest of its 1,100 locations - but the rebrand has irritated some already.

One person said: "Very few have shortened WHSmith to WHS, so the rebrand doesn’t resonate.

"It also looks ugly and is too similar to the NHS logo. Waste of time and money!"

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Another added: "What is so annoying is that it takes just as long to say WHS out loud as WH Smith and so everyone usually calls it Smith’s for short. Which is the bit they’ve taken out of the branding. Terrible decision."

A third said: "The new WH Smith logo is totally baffling".

Another commenter added, while comparing the rebrand to an older WH Smith logo: "Far from a man to be disgusted by a boring old Sans Serif font but would be hard pressed to find a better example of the descent of civilisation than from this to this in a mere matter of decades."

Nick Bubb, a retailing analyst and consultant, said: “There is some logic in having a different logo for the high street stores compared to the travel stores but the S in the WHS logo should be in a different type-face so it does not look like the NHS, so the rebrand has been poorly executed."

WH Smith has undergone an uptick in its fortunes recently, with profits doubling in the last financial year, amid increased travel and strong sales of electronics and premium food items.

The chain was founded in 1792 in London by Henry Walton Smith and his wife Anna.

WH Smith said there was no guarantee the rebrand would be rolled out to every store. The company also said there was signage to boost customers' awareness of its products.

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