Newspaper and magazine wholesaler Smiths News has blamed “difficult market conditions” for a drop in half-year sales and profits.

Underlying pre-tax profits fell 5% to £15.3m in the six months to 28 February, on sales marginally down 1.4% at £609.5m. Newspaper revenues grew 2.8% during the period as contract gains and cover price increases offset reduced volumes. But magazine revenues fell 8%.

Newspaper and magazine circulations would continue to decline, the company said, but this would be offset by cover price increases and new contract wins.

“Our new business pipeline looks strong, leaving us confident that trading for the full year will be in line with expectation and that the group is well placed for future growth,” said chief executive Mark Cashmore.

Meanwhile, parent company WH Smith reported a 4.7% drop in half-year pre-tax profits to £61m and a 5% drop in like-for-like sales.

Like-for-like sales in high street stores fell 6%, while sales in travel stores in railway stations, airports and service stations fell 1% on a like-for-like basis.