THE City hailed WH Smith boss Kate Swann yesterday as she marked her last set of results at the retailer with a 5 per cent jump in half-year profits.
Earnings for the six months to the end of February reached £69 million despite a fall in like-for-like sales as Swann’s tactics, of cost cutting while shifting emphasis to higher margin products, paid off. Investors were rewarded with a 13 per cent hike in the interim dividend, to 9.4p a share.
Swann said: “We expect the trading environment to remain challenging, however the business is in good shape and well positioned for continued growth in the UK and internationally.”
Steve Clarke, managing director of the high street division, will take over as chief executive on 1 July.