WHSmith posts 6% fall in high street profits

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WHSmith’s high street arm continues to weigh heavy on the business, as the retailer this morning posted a six per cent fall in trading profits across the past six months.

The books and magazine specialist, which operates around 600 high street stores and over 700 travel stores in airports, railways stations and motorway services, posted a one per cent fall in group pre-tax profits to £82 million for the six months to February 28.

While high street trading slumped, earnings in its larger travel division rose 5 per cent.

Like-for-like sales in high street stores fell four per cent over the half year, while its travel outlets reported a three per cent rise.

Stephen Clarke said the fact the publishing industry had not delivered a major trend over Christmas’ peak trading period had been a factor in the results.

“While there is some uncertainty in the broader economic environment, we have made a good start to the second half of the financial year, increased the interim dividend by 10 per cent and are confident in the outcome for the full year,” Clarke added.

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