W H Smith appoints El-Assad to lead US expansion

W H Smith appoints El-Assad to lead US expansion

W H Smith is looking to expand its retail travel business in the United States with the appointment of Ziad El-Assad. 

El-Assad is taking on the role of Senior Vice President of Business Development, USA with the retailer saying his principal duties will be to “lead WH Smith’s travel retail expansion within the United States, formulate brand partnerships and establish operating joint ventures.”

Phil McNally, managing director of W H Smith International said the retailer has been developing its plan to enter the US news and gifts travel market since the November 2018 purchase of US airport travel retailer InMotion for $198m (£155m). 

Previously Vice President of Business Development for airport concessions business NewsLink Group after working as a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley, El-Assad said: “I am thrilled to join W H Smith and lead expansion efforts within the US. With all the recent consolidation in the travel retail industry, this is an opportune time for a world- class organisation with a long and rich history in travel retail to enter the US market, and offer both airports and passengers alike fresh and innovative travel convenience and retail concepts.” 

Phil McNally, managing director of W H Smith International, said “Since W H Smith’s acquisition of InMotion Entertainment in November 2018, we have been developing our plan to enter the US news and gifts travel market with the W H Smith brand. I am delighted that Ziad, with his many years of experience in the industry, has decided to join W H Smith at this very exciting time. The appointment of Ziad is a crucial step towards our goal of establishing a meaningful presence for the W H Smith brand in the US.”

W H Smith currently operates in 30 countries outside the UK with InMotion making up the US side of the business. Established in 1998, InMotion has a concession portfolio of 114 stores across 43 airports in the US, with a presence in 22 of the top 25 busiest US airports. The November purchase doubled the size of W H Smith's international travel business, the company said.