Belfast Telegraph

WH Smith cheered by sales of spoof humour books

Profits at WH Smith ticked up in the first half of the year as the rising popularity of spoof humour books made up for a fall in sales of adult colouring books.

The high street chain said pre-tax profits rose 4% to £83 million in the six months to February 28, while revenue grew 2%.

But like-for-like sales at its high street stores dipped 3%, in part due tough comparatives last year when sales of "colour therapy" titles soared.

"This performance reflects successful ranges and strong promotions in our stationery categories and good sales of spoof humour books offset by the annualisation of last year's strong sales of 'colour therapy' titles," the chain said.

High street trading profit was flat at £53 million.

Like-for-like sales at its travel arm, which includes stores at airports and railway stations, rose 5% in the period.

Chief executive Stephen Clarke said: "In high street, profit was in line with expectations, matching a very strong performance from last year. Stationery performed particularly well over the Christmas period driven by strong sales from our new seasonal product ranges and books benefited from good sales of spoof humour titles.

"While there is some uncertainty in the broader economic environment, we will continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in the business which positions us well in the current year and into the future."