WH Smith sales drop but profit holds up

WH Smith said it was confident about the outcome for the full year as higher profit margins offset lower sales in a tough market.

The group, which trades from over 570 high street stores and more than 500 outlets at airports, train stations, hospitals and motorway service stations, said sales at stores open over a year fell four per cent in the 18 weeks to 2 July.

That compares with a fall of five per cent in the six months to 28 February.

However, the firm said gross profit margins continued to grow, following a long-term trend in which it has focused on more profitable products, better sourcing and better control of markdowns.

"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," WH Smith said.