WH Smith sees sales hit in ash cloud crisis

City A.M. Reporter
WH Smith posted a fall in third-quarter sales as travel disruption due to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud hit the firm's airport business.

The company said its financial position was in line with market expectations and although it was cautious about consumer spending it was confident in the outcome for the full year.

WH Smith said sales at stores open over a year fell four per cent in the 14 weeks to 5 June.

That compares with a four per cent fall in like-for-like sales in the six months to 28 February.

The firm has 570 high street stores and a 500-store travel division with outlets at airports, train stations, hospitals, motorway service stations and work places.

It said like-for-like sales fell four per cent both in the high street and travel divisions over the third quarter.
However, it noted the travel division decline was two per cent excluding the impact of the volcanic ash disruption.

The company said in a statement: "Whilst airport passenger numbers have, as expected, remained soft, we continue to outperform."

Shares in WH Smith, which have fallen 11 per cent over the last month.