WHS expects to hit full-year targets

WHS expects to hit full-year targets

W H Smith said it expects its financial results for the year to be in line with expectations, with a continued “strong” performance in its Travel arm with new openings in Italy, while the High Street business continues to make cost savings.

The books and stationery retailer issued a trading update on Wednesday (30th August) ahead of entering a closed period before reporting its financial results for the 12 months to 31st August on 12th October.

The Travel arm has been spurred on by further international openings, including its first three stores in Italy - in Rome's Fiumicino and Ciampino airports, and one in Turin airport, the company said.

“Our Travel business continues to deliver a strong performance with good sales across all of our channels and our new store opening programme both in the UK and internationally is in line with our plan,” it added. “…We continue to see further opportunities in the international news, books and convenience travel market.”

Meanwhile the High Street business continued to “perform in line with expectations” the company said.

“Cost savings and margin improvements have been delivered in line with our profit focused strategy,” it added.

For the first six months of its financial year, W H Smith reported a 4% rise in group profits to £83m, with spoof humour titles the key driver of sales in its books business. In Travel, trading profit rose 11% to £39m (2016: £35m), while High Street trading profit remained flat on the same period in 2016. Total Group sales were up 2% at £643m (2016: £633m), with Group like-for like sales flat. Travel sales were up 10% (5% like-for-like), but High Street sales fell 4% (3% down like-for-like).