WH Smith slows sales decline in first quarter

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.

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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.”