WH Smith's profits stay on track despite slide in sales
Wh Smith boss Kate Swann hailed the retailer's resilience after it withstood a further slide in high street sales.
She said the company was still on track to meet City targets after improvement in its all-important profit margins at both its high street shops and in travel stores for the 21 weeks to January 21.
This was despite a 6% drop in high street sales, where a poor selection of celebrity biographies is likely to have dented trade, and a 3% drop for its portfolio of station, airport and motorway stores.
Ms Swann, who joined the business in 2003, has shifted the company's focus away from lower-margin CDs and DVDs and looked to reduce the chain's dependence on the Christmas season.
The former Tesco marketing director said: "Over the past six years both businesses have consistently increased profits and the group is now well balanced between travel and high street.
"As a result of this, the months of November and December now represent less than half of annual group profit compared to over 90% of group profit six years ago."
Shares opened more than 2% higher yesterday as analysts expressed relief that the company remained on track for profits of just under £100m this year.
Ms Swann added: "Looking ahead, we expect the trading environment to be challenging, however we have planned accordingly and continue to be confident in making further progress in the year."