WH Smith slows sales decline in first quarter

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Newsagent and book retailer WH Smith today said its sales have continued to fall since the start of its new financial year, but the decline has slowed.

Like-for-like sales across the group during the 10 weeks to 9 November were 4 per cent lower than the same period a year ago, but that marked an improvement on the 5 per cent decline it reported for the year to 31 August.

At the firm’s travel division, which has outlets at airports, train stations, hospitals and workplaces, like-for-like sales were down 2 per cent, compared with last year’s fall of 4 per cent.

Although the rate of decline at its high street stores remained steady at 6 per cent, WH Smith said it continued to keep a tight rein on costs and it was making progress in improving the division’s margins.

The retailer, which last month reported a 6 per cent rise in annual profits to £108 million, added: “Whilst the current climate continues to be uncertain, we remain a resilient business and are well positioned for continued profitable growth both in the UK and internationally.”

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