“Favourable” publishing in books has pushed sales at WH Smith’s High Street arm “slightly ahead” of its forecast, the company revealed in its pre-close trading statement today (20th August).
The chain retailer will announce its full year financial results for the year ending 31st August 2015 in October and has released a trading update before entering into a closed period until that time.
WHS revealed the performance of its High Street business for the year was in line with expectations “with sales slightly ahead, driven by some favourable publishing in books,” in reference to E L James' Grey (Cornerstone) and Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman (William Heinemann).
“We continue to deliver gross margin improvements and planned cost savings in line with our profit focused strategy,” the company said.
It its Travel arm, which consistently reports higher sales growth than the High Street arm, WHS said the company continued to deliver a strong performance in the second half of the year, helped by a growth in passenger numbers.
Sales were “good” across “all of our core channels reflecting continued investment in our key business initiatives,” WHS said.
It added: “In addition, the new store opening programme both in the UK and overseas is on track.”
Overall, the performance of both the High Street and Travel arms means the retailer expects the outcome for the year to 31st August 2015 to be “slightly ahead of the consensus of analysts' expectations.”
WHS along with other airport retailers such as Boots and Dixons have recently hit the headlines over the VAT savings they make from customers traveling outside the European Union, and have faced pressure from the government to pass on those savings.