Margins up, sales down at WH Smith

Newsagent chain WH Smith has got off to a subdued start to its new financial year, with sales down year-on-year, though margins continue to harden.

Newsagent chain WH Smith has got off to a subdued start to its new financial year, with sales down year-on-year, though margins continue to harden.

Total sales in the 10 weeks since September 1st were down 3% year-on-year, while like-for-like (LFL) sales were down 4%. The group has become used to sales drifting lower, however - in the last financial year LFL sales were down 5% - and has been concentrating on boosting margins.

WHSmith Travel, the division that runs the group's newsagents in airports, stations and bus depots, saw flat total sales while like-for-like sales were down 4%. Gross margin has increased in line with the board's plan and the store opening plan continues to make good progress both in the UK and internationally.

WHSmith High Street total sales and like for like sales were down 5% in the period. Again, gross margin has increased in line with expectations and costs continue to be managed tightly.

The group's financial position is in line with market expectations, the statement revealed.

"Whilst the current climate continues to be challenging, we remain a resilient business and are well positioned for continued profitable growth," WH Smith said.

JH

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