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Gloucestershire Business News

High Street profits fall at WH Smith

Profits from WH Smith's network of High Street stores fell by four per cent year-on-year for the six months to February, the company's interim results show.

However, a seven per-cent increase in profits from the group's travel arm of stores in airports and railway stations saw an overall one per-cent year-on-year increase in group profits.

The High Street giant made £48million from its extensive network of High Street stores, down from £50million for the same six-month period last year.

However, those figures are now nearly eclipsed by the £44million in profits made from the travel arm - which saw profits rise seven per cent from £41million to £44million.

Sales in the travel sector were boosted by WH Smiths' acquisition of American airport retailer InMotion during the period and the company now has an international network of 425 stores.

Stephen Clarke, Group Chief Executive, said: "The Group has delivered a strong performance in the first half of the financial year.


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"In Travel, we continue to see strong sales growth, up 18 per cent, driven by our ongoing investment and initiatives in our UK business and our growing international businesses.

"As a result, profit in Travel was up 7per cent in the period.

"The integration of InMotion is progressing well. This acquisition doubles the size of our business outside of the UK where we are now present in 99 airports and 30 countries."

Revenues from the travel arm were £364million for the six months - an increase of 18 per cent, while High Street stores accounted for £331million in sales.

On the High Street, the 578 stores generated a "good performance" despite total revenue decreasing by one per cent overall and two per cent on a like-for-like basis.

The drop in revenue was hailed by the company as their best results in a decade, highlighting the struggles faced by even the biggest High Street retailers.

Cost savings of £4million were delivered in the period with a further £5million in savings identified for the second half of 2018/9.

Clarke added: "High Street delivered one of our best trading performances in recent years, despite the widely reported challenges facing the UK high street, with LFL sales down 2 per cent.

"This has been driven by good growth in seasonal stationery ranges including Christmas cards, wrap, diaries, calendars and our latest fashion and art and craft ranges.

"These results are only possible through the hard work of all of our teams across the business and I am sincerely grateful for everyone's continued support."

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