Companies round-up – Wednesday 14 November

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Macfarlane and WH Smith have updated the market on their trading performance today.

Macfarlane – subdued demand for packaging

Glasgow-based packaging group Macfarlane today said sales at its distribution arm had dipped 1 per cent since the end of June as demand weakened, but this had been partly offset by new business wins and rising web sales. Sales at its manufacturing operation were 2 per cent lower than a year ago, but profits before one-off items were “well ahead” of 2011.

Chairman Graeme Bissett said: “Whilst we do not expect general economic conditions to improve in the short term, the board remains confident that group results for 2012 will be in line with its expectations.”

WH Smith – sales down amid challenging conditions

Retailer WH Smith has reported a 3 per cent fall in total sales for the ten weeks to 10 November, with like-for-like sales down 4 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Sales at its high street stores dropped 5 per cent, but the group said gross margins had increased and it was “well positioned for continued profitable growth” despite the challenging market conditions.