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WH Smith increases profit guidance after strong Christmas

Wednesday January 20th 2016

Book and stationery retailer WH Smith has said it expects full year profits to be slightly ahead of expectations after it enjoyed strong Christmas trading.

Like-for-like sales in the 20 weeks to 16 January rose by 2% while total sales increased by 4%.

In the retailer’s travel business, which includes stores at airports and rail stations, like-for-like sales climbed by 5% with total sales up 12%, as the UK and international new store opening programme remained on track.

Like-for-like sales in high street stores were flat with total sales down 1% over the 20 weeks, driven by like-for-like sales growth of 2% over the five week Christmas period to 2 January 2016. WH Smith said the Christmas performance reflected successful promotions in its stationery and seasonal categories as well as strong sales of adult colouring books.

Stephen Clarke, WH Smith group chief executive, said: "In high street, we had good like-for-like sales growth over the key Christmas period, driven by the 'colour therapy' phenomenon, our seasonal offer and strong promotions in stationery. In travel, we continue to benefit from the impact of our growth initiatives and the improvement in passenger numbers.

"As a result of the strong sales performance in high street over the five week Christmas period, we expect profit growth for the year to be slightly ahead of plan.”