Company News • 11.04.2013

Profits rise at WH Smith despite fall in sales

Growth in international channel

Profits rise at WH Smith despite fall in sales
Source: WH Smith

Books and stationery retailer WH Smith has posted a 5% increase in its group pre-tax profit to £69 million in the half year to end February driven by strong performance at its travel arm.

Group profit from trading operations rose by 4% to £77 million in the period as trading profits at the group's travel business rose 7% to £29 million. Trading profits at the WH Smith high street stores rose by 2% to £48 million with the business delivering costs savings of £9 million in the period.However, group total sales were down 4% with like-for-like sales falling by 5%. While High Street total sales fell 6% with like-for-like sales down by 5%, total sales at the travel division were flat with like-for-like sales dropping by 4%.

WH Smith said it had made further progress in the travel arm’s growing international channel with 121 units now open or won, and a further 30 kiosks won in China. Commenting on the results, Kate Swann, group chief executive, said: "We have delivered another strong performance across the Group with EPS up 11% and the interim dividend increased by 13%. Both businesses continue to increase profit year on year, despite the challenging economic environment.

"The group remains highly cash generative enabling us to invest in our businesses and in new opportunities, whilst returning cash to shareholders.  So far this financial year, we have returned £28 million to shareholders through the share buyback announced in August 2012. "We expect the trading environment to remain challenging however the business is in good shape and is well positioned for continued growth in both the UK and internationally."

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