WH Smith: Stationery but moving ahead

Stationery and books chain WH Smith yesterday said it was positioned for further growth after revealing another quarter of resilient trading.

The group achieved a 9 per cent hike in full-year profits to 89 million in its most recent results and reinforced this yesterday by matching sales expectations for the first quarter - covering the period between 1 September and 6 November.

Like-for-like sales in its travel shops fell just 1 per cent, while the high street declined 4 per cent as a result of its strategy to rebalance the mix towards higher-margin categories such as stationery and books.

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Switching his rating on the stock from "hold" to "add", Numis Securities analyst Andrew Wade said WH Smith continued to do the right things, although he warned the outlook for next year remained tough.

The retailer's travel business operates 516 outlets at airports, train stations and motorway service areas, while the high street business has 573 sites.