WH Smith has described its performance as resilient during the Christmas shopping season and said that profit was in line with expectations.
In a trading update covering the 21 weeks to 21 January 2012, the book, newspaper and stationery retailer said total sales were down 3% with like-for-like sales down 5% in the period.
In the group’s High Street division total sales were down 5% with like-for-likes down 6%. Excluding Entertainment, like-for-likes sales were down 4%. However, gross margin improved in the period and costs were tightly managed.
In the travel division total sales were up 2% with like-for-like sales down 3% in the period. The group said its new store opening programme was “on track” as it continues to identify further opportunities for growth both in the UK and internationally.
Commenting on the results, Kate Swann, group chief executive said: “During the period we saw a resilient performance in challenging trading conditions. Gross margin was in line with plan and costs were tightly controlled.
“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.
“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.”