Smiths News has reported a decline in like-for-like sales of 2.1% in the 19 weeks to 9 January 2010.

However, overall sales rose 52.1% after the group snapped up contracts from defunct rival Dawson News.

Chief executive Mark Cashmore also announced new contracts with Trinity Mirror and Newsquest that he said would be worth £11m a year.

“Whilst economic conditions in the UK remain challenging, the group continues to make significant progress across a number of key business objectives,” Cashmore said.

“As a result, the board remains confident about current trading prospects and expects a year of growth.”