WH Smith profits up despite drop in sales

WH Smith has reported a pre-tax profit rise of 8% to £82m despite falling sales for the year to 31 August.

Total sales fell 1% while like-for-like sales across the group were down 5%.

The company says its travel retail business, which operates in airports and train stations, continued its “strong performance” despite falling passenger numbers. It reported a 17% rise in operating profits. Like-for-like sales were down 2% against an 8% rise in total sales.

Profit at its high street retail business were up 4% on the previous year but sales dropped 5% overall and 6% on a like for like basis.

Despite the dip in sales, the company says results were in line with strategic plans.

Stationery sales were up 1% boosted by a strong “back to school” campaign, supported by extra promotional space and television advertising.

WH Smith group chief executive Kate Swann says: “Operating performance was ahead of expectations in both our travel and high street divisions. Whilst trading conditions are challenging, we have planned accordingly and the group is well positioned to benefit when consumer spending recovers.”

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