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WH Smith benefits from performance at travel business

Book and stationery retailer WH Smith has reported a 1% uplift in like-for-like sales in its third quarter.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

WH Smith benefits from performance at travel business

Book and stationery retailer WH Smith has reported a 1% uplift in like-for-like sales in its third quarter.

In the 13 week period from 1 March to 2 June, group sales increased by 4% year-on-year.

WH Smith’s travel business, which includes stores at airports and rail stations, saw its total sales climb by 8% with like-for-likes up 3% after the business invested in both its UK and international stores and benefited from growth in passenger numbers.  

The company said the travel business’s new store opening programme is on track in both the UK and internationally as it looks to open between 15 and 20 units in the UK this year. It has recently launched a standalone bookshop at London Bridge Station which has brought the total number of standalone bookshops to eleven. This summer the retailer will also launch eight new units at Madrid Airport.

WH Smith said it is continuing with a “profit focused” strategy at its high street stores. Total sales were down 1% at the business in the period while like-for-like sales fell by the same percentage in what the retailer described as its quietest trading period. Gross margin is continuing to improve and cost savings have been delivered in line with plan. The company is currently investing in new store format trials and evaluating their performance.

Stephen Clarke, WH Smith group chief executive, said: "We have delivered a good sales performance in the third quarter in both our Travel and High Street businesses. Whilst there is some uncertainty in the broader economic environment, WHSmith serves millions of customers each week and continues to grow both internationally and in the UK. We continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in the business to position us well for the future. We remain confident in the outcome for the full year."

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