WH Smith's share price climbs after stationer ups profit guidance after strong Christmas sales - and yes, we're still buying colouring-in books

Catherine Neilan
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Who doesn't love colouring in? (Source: Getty)

WH Smith's share price rose this morning, after the stationer said it expects full-year profits to be ahead of expectations, after the group recorded solid growth - with adult colouring-in books once again receiving credit for driving sales.

The figures

Total sales for the 20 weeks to 16 January across the group rose four per cent, while like-for-likes edged up two per cent.

Travel had a particularly strong trading period, with total sales up 12 per cent and like-for-likes up five per cent. However on the high street, total sales fell one per cent, while like-for-likes were flat.

Investors were pleased with the update: WH Smith's share price was up 4.4 per cent in early trading.

WH Smith WH Smith | mobile image

Why it's interesting

In the context of a generally miserable high street this Christmas, WH Smith is pleased with the performance in both divisions and says it expects profits to be "slightly ahead of plan" for the full year.

Travel continues to be its trump card,with gross margins also growing, and expansion both in the UK and internationally on track.

On the high street, the retailer is optimistic, with like-for-like sales up two per cent in the five weeks to 2 January. Adult colouring-in books continue to be a big driver of sales, alongside stationery and seasonal categories. Gross margins were up 100 basis points.

What WH Smith said

Stephen Clarke, group chief executive said: "The group delivered a good performance over the 20 week period.

"In high street, we had good like-for-like sales growth over the key Christmas period, driven by the 'colour therapy' phenomenon, our seasonal offer and strong promotions in stationery. In travel, we continue to benefit from the impact of our growth initiatives and the improvement in passenger numbers.

"As a result of the strong sales performance in high street over the five week Christmas period, we expect profit growth for the year to be slightly ahead of plan.

"This performance would not be possible without the hard work of all our colleagues across the business and I am grateful for their continued support.

"Looking forward, profitable growth and cash generation will remain central to our plans allowing us to invest in new opportunities for the future."

In short

Colouring in is certainly paying off for WH Smith.

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