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WHSmith unveils new coffee concept for UK hospitals

The first District Market Coffee store has launched at Sheffield Northern General Hospital, with the news, books and convenience retailer expected to scale the concept across its UK hospital store network

District Market Coffee at Sheffield Northern General Hospital | Photo credit: WHSmith


WHSmith unveiled a new coffee store format – District Market Coffee – at Sheffield Northern General Hospital. 

The 1,084sq ft store sources its coffee locally from Sheffield-based roaster Frazer’s and bakes pastries in-store daily. 

WHSmith will open a second District Market Coffee site at Sheffield Royal Hallamshire Hospital before the end of the month. 

The news, books and convenience retailer currently operates 140 own-brand stores and licensed M&S, Costa Coffee and proprietary coffee brands across more than 100 UK hospitals. 

In a press release, WHSmith said it sees opportunities for at least one of the brands to be scaled across a further 200 hospitals.  

“Whether it’s a quick bite to eat or a place to relax and recharge, District Market Coffee and its wide range of quality, locally sourced products is well set up to be a part of the hospital and wider community. This launch is the latest example of WHSmith’s growing experience and expertise in working with hospital trusts to deliver relevant, modern and customer focused retail offers and we see further opportunities for growth ahead,” said Andrew Harrison, UK Travel Managing Director, WHSmith. 

Founded as a news vendor in London in 1792, Swindon-based WHSmith operates 1,100 stores across the UK, with a retail offering of books, newspapers, travel accessories and on-the-go food and beverages.  

WHSmith said its hospital footprint is currently one of the fastest growing areas of its UK Travel segment – the largest division in the WHSmith Group, with annual revenues of £709m ($900m). The retailer launched its first coffee shop concept, Coffee House, in 2015 – with the concept reaching 17 stores in 2016.  

WHSmith also operates two coffee chains in Australia. Fresh+ is present in more than 20 hospitals across the country and Long Shot has stores in Campbelltown Hospital and Wagga Wagga Hospital.  

The retailer’s total international business encompasses 665 stores across 31 markets and contributes annual sales of £615m (781m). High street stores contributed £469m ($596m) in sales in 2023. 

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