WH Smith has reported a “strong trading performance” for Christmas trading, with total sales up 6%. However if sales from recently purchased US travel retailer InMotion are stripped out, total sales for the 20 week period to 19th January were up 3%, while like-for-like sales, which excludes the impact of new stores, were flat.
Details of books performance for the trading period were not broken out but WH Smith told The Bookseller its bestselling titles over the Christmas period were Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming (Viking), David Walliams' The Ice Monster (HarperCollins) and Guiness World Records.
According to the trading statement, international business continues to grow and with more than 420 units open, including 116 InMotion stores, across 28 countries and over 90 airports outside of the UK. The firm’s store opening programme in the UK is “on track” with 20 new units expected to open this year.
The report added total sales were down 1% and like-for-like sales down 2% for the high street business with WH Smith “on track to deliver the planned £9m of cost savings for the year.”
Group chief executive Stephen Clarke said: "The Group has delivered a strong trading performance with total sales up 6% and like-for-like sales flat.
"Our Travel business continued to grow across all channels. This was driven by our ongoing investment in the business, including the roll out of our new concept stores at Heathrow, and growth in air passenger numbers. InMotion delivered an impressive sales performance over the Christmas period and integration into the Group is progressing well.
"High Street delivered a good performance, particularly in Stationery, driven by good growth in Christmas cards, wrap, diaries and fashion stationery.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank our 15,000 colleagues across the Group for their hard work over this busy period. Without their ongoing support we would not be able to achieve these results.
"Looking ahead, whilst there is existing uncertainty in the broader economic environment, the Group is well positioned for the year ahead and beyond."
The report comes after WH Smith confirmed plans last year to close six loss-making high street stores as well as "winding down" non-core initiatives including its WH Smith Local convenience outlets, launched in 2013, and its 20-strong Cardmarket chain, once the leases expire.