WH Smith (SMWH) has announced its best performance on the high street for “many years” as pre-tax profits in the first half to 29 February 2016 jumped 11% to £80m.
Trading profit on the high street came in 6% higher at £53m and 9% up in the travel division to £35m. Group total sales in the period increased 4% to £633m, with like-for-like sales up 2%.
CEO Stephen Clarke said: “The group has delivered a strong first half with both our travel and high street businesses performing well.”
Travel total sales were up 11%, with LFL sales up 5%, as WH Smith continued to invest in the division and passenger numbers in the UK grow. The group also now has 200 international stores in airports around the world.
High street total sales were down 1% in the half with like-for-like numbers flat.
“In high street, the flat like-for-like sales – our best performance for many years – were driven by a very strong performance of seasonal products over the key five week Christmas period,” Clarke said.
“Stationery sales were particularly strong, driven by investment in new product ranges and both our Stationery and Books business continue to benefit from strong sales in adult activity books, such as colour therapy, extreme dot-to-dot and querkles.”
WH Smith’s share price is currently down 2.2% to 1,766p after peaking 1,847p in early trading.