WH Smith bolstered by travel outlets

Image caption,
The High Street outlets have focused on books and stationery

Stationery and books chain WH Smith has reported better-than-expected profits - helped by a strong performance at its stores in airports, train stations and motorway service stations.

Pre-tax profits were £89m in the year to 31 August, up 9% from last year.

The profits rise came despite a 4% fall in like-for-like sales.

At WH Smith's 516 stores at travel locations, profits increased by 10% after the retailer improved profit margins.

This was despite travel disruption during the year - most notably the problems at airports which was caused by the volcanic ash cloud.

'Resilient business'

On the High Street, WH Smith has been focusing on main trading categories such as stationery and books.

But a decision to move away from DVDs and CDs - which have lower-margins - meant sales were down 4% on a like-for-like basis, which strips out the impact of new retail space.

Welcoming the results, chief executive Kate Swann said the firm was "a resilient business with a strong and consistent record of both profit growth and cash generation".

"We are well-positioned for continued growth in the future," she added, saying the firm was increasing its dividend to investors.

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