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WH Smith remains upbeat despite fall in like-for-like sales

Book and stationery retailer WH Smith has reported that total group sales were flat in the first 14 weeks of the second half of the financial year. On a like-for-like basis sales fell by 2% compared to the same period a year earlier.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

WH Smith remains upbeat despite fall in like-for-like sales

The group’s travel division increased its total sales by 4% in the period while like-for-like sales were flat reflecting a continuing improvement in sales trends. In a statement the company said: “Our new store opening programme, both in the UK and internationally, is progressing well and we saw gross margin improvement.”

At WH Smith’s high street stores like-for-like sales fell by 4% with total sales also dropping by 4%. However, gross margins continued to increase and cost savings were delivered in line with plan.

The group said its financial position remains in line with market expectations, and its balance sheet remains strong. It added: “We continue to make progress in both our Travel and High Street businesses and remain confident in the outcome for the full year.”

WH Smith also said it had agreed a new £93.3 million working capital facility which will expire in June 2019. The facility is being supplied equally by Barclays Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and Santander UK.

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