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High Street sales down for WH Smith

‘Resilient performance with profits in line with expectations’.

CITY & CORPORATE

High Street sales down for WH Smith

In its trading update today,  for the 8 weeks and the 21 weeks to 22 January 2011, the company reveals that Group total sales were down 4% with like for like sales down 5% for the 21 weeks.

In High Street, LFL sales for the 8 and 21 weeks were down 7% and 6% respectively; excluding Entertainment, LFL sales were down 3% for both periods.

Gross margin improved ahead of expectations with costs tightly managed to reflect the trading conditions.

In the Travel division, total sales were flat and LFL sales were down 3% for the 21 weeks with gross margin improving ahead of expectations.  ‘Whilst passenger numbers were inevitably impacted by the weather, we continue to outperform.  Our new store opening programme remains on track’.

The Group intends to return up to £50m of cash to shareholders via a rolling share buyback programme, and as of 21 January 2011, have purchased 3.6 million shares to date at an average price of 485.886p.

Commenting on today's announcement, Kate Swann, Group Chief Executive said,"During the period we saw a resilient performance across both our High Street and Travel divisions, despite challenging weather conditions.  Our staff worked extremely hard during this period to maintain the best possible service for our customers. With gross margin ahead of plan and costs tightly controlled, overall performance for the period was in line with expectations.
Looking ahead, we expect the trading environment to remain challenging and we have planned accordingly."

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