WHSmith has posted an uptick in Q3 sales driven by the continued growth of its travel business.
In the 13-week period ending 2 June, the bookseller and newsagent chain’s total group sales were up 4% with like-for-like sales up 1% compared with last year.
Travel business total sales were up 8% and like-for-like sales were up 3%. The company attributed the growth to “continued investment in our UK and international businesses and growth in passenger numbers”.
However total high street sales were down 1% with like-for-like sales – which exclude new store openings – also down 1%. Gross margin increased in line with the retailer’s plans and it also said its new store opening programme is on track in both the UK and internationally.
The firm said it is on target to open between 15 and 20 units in the UK this year following the recent opening of its latest standalone bookshop at London Bridge Station. It will also open eight units in Madrid Airport, bringing the total number of units open internationally to 282, with a further 10 due to open this year.
Stephen Clarke, 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.”
The news comes only a week after the retailer was named the UK’s worst-rated retailer by consumers with a 58% consumer satisfaction rate in a Which? survey of 10,356 people.