WH Smith’s sales have continued to deteriorate in the first 10 weeks of its financial year, hamstrung by the performance of its high street stores division.

The company insisted it had begun the new financial year well, noting that the peak trading periods for both business lay ahead.

However, total group like-for-likes fell 1% in the period to 8 November. They dipped 3% in the previous financial year from £1.19bn to £1.16bn.

The travel division fared much better  with total sales up 7% and like-for-likes up 2%. However, total high street sales fell 5% and like-for-likes dipped 4%, dragging down group sales.

The company said gross margin had increase in line with its plan, and cost-saving initiatives were on track.

WH Smith said as of yesterday (11 November), it had bought 600,000 shares and returned £6.1m to shareholders as part of previously announced intention to return up to £50m of cash to shareholders via a rolling share buyback programme.

“We remain focused on profitable growth, cash generation and investment in new opportunities,” the trading update said.