WH Smith misses out on Christmas cheer

Stationery and book store WH Smith suffered a sad Christmas, with both overall and like-for-like sales sliding four per cent in the 20 weeks to 18 January.

In line with what the company expected, its high street shops were the biggest drag on its performance, with total sales down seven per cent and like-for-likes down six per cent. Retailers have posted a mixed bag when it comes to bricks and mortar successes over Christmas.

Tightly-managed costs meant the retailer still saw “good” profits, and it reiterated plans to return up to £50m to shareholders via a share buyback programme.

Chief executive Stephen Clarke commented on the results:

Looking ahead, we continue to plan cautiously and manage the business tightly while investing in new opportunities for future growth. We are confident in making further progress in the year.