Smith said it expects full-year profits to be ahead of expectations, after recording solid growth driven by demand for adult colouring-in books, stationery and seasonal categories, particularly in airport and railway station outlets.
Like-for-like sales across the 700-plus number of travel sites jumped 5% over the Christmas trading period. Overall travel sales increased 12% but on the high street, total sales fell 1% while like-for-likes were flat.
Total sales for the 20 weeks to 16 January across the group increased 4%, while like-for-likes grew 2%.
Travel is the ace in the retailer’s sleeve, with gross margins also growing, and expansion both in the UK and internationally on track.
On the high street the stationer is buoyant, with like-for-like sales up 2% in the five weeks to 2 January.
“The group delivered a good performance over the 20 week period,” said Stephen Clarke, group CEO.
“In high street, we had good like-for-like sales growth over the key Christmas period, driven by the ‘colour therapy’ phenomenon, our seasonal offer and strong promotions in stationery. In travel, we continue to benefit from the impact of our growth initiatives and the improvement in passenger numbers.
As a result of the strong sales performance in high street over the five week Christmas period, we expect profit growth for the year to be slightly ahead of plan.
Looking forward, profitable growth and cash generation will remain central to our plans allowing us to invest in new opportunities for the future.”