WH Smith’s comparisons hit by last year’s success of 50 Shades

Suzie Neuwirth
BRITISH retailer WH Smith yesterday announced that group sales were down six per cent in the last quarter, impacted by a weak performance from its high street stores.

Like-for-like high street sales were down seven per cent compared to the same period last year, while sales from its travel unit went down four per cent.

“The economic environment remains uncertain and whilst we continue to be cautious about consumer spending, we remain confident in the outcome for the full year,” said the company.

Analysts said the enormous success of the 50 Shades of Grey series of books last year made it tough for the firm to beat 2012’s sales figures.

“We expect management to have pulled gross margin and cost levers to reflect the sales trends that had been expected,” said Sanjay Vidyarthi at Espirito Santo.

Shares in WH Smith fell 2.3 per cent.