WH Smith has posted strong half-year profit growth, but sales continue to slide.

The news, stationery and books retailer said group pre-tax profits rose 5% to £69m in the six months to 28 February. Profits at its travel stores situated in railway stations and airports rose 7% to £29m, while profits in its high-street stores rose 2% to £48m.

However, group sales fell 4% to £638m, with like-for-likes down 5%. Travel sales were flat, although like-for-like sales fell 4%, while high-street sales tumbled 6% and by 5% on a like-for-like basis.

“We have delivered another strong performance across the group,” said outgoing group CEO Kate Swann.

“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.”

The company also revealed that its travel division had opened new concept stores during the period, including a WH Smith Express at East Midlands Airport, a WH Smith BooksPlus at Heathrow T4 and three Zoodle stores with a dedicated children’s offer.

“While the stores are still in trial phase, initial performance is encouraging,” Swann added.

Meanwhile, WH Smith has appointed Henry Staunton as its new non-executive chairman. Staunton, who takes on the role on 1 September, replaces Walker Boyd, who is retiring.