High Street

WHSmith sales fall, but airports and stations climb

High street sales for book retailer WHSmith were down 5% in the 20-week period to 20 January.

Like-for-like sales in the company’s high street stores dropped by 4%, which was in line with its expectations, while total sales year-on-year remained flat, and like-for-like sales were down by 1%.

The company’s airport and train station-based stores fared better, reporting a 7% increase in total sales and 3% uptick in like-for-like figures.

The retailer will open 15 new stores in the UK this year and said it expected full-year cost savings to be in the region of £12m – slightly ahead of target.

Stephen Clarke, group chief executive, said: “Our travel business now accounts for almost two thirds of the group’s annual profit and we continue to deliver strong sales growth across all our key channels.

“This was driven by ongoing investment in the business and continued growth in passenger numbers in our airport stores over the Christmas period.

“Looking ahead, while there is some uncertainty in the broader economic environment, we remain confident that the group is well positioned for the year ahead as we continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in new opportunities.”

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