Strong first-half results for W H Smith

Strong first-half results for W H Smith

W H Smith saw a rise in both sales and profits in the first half of 2016, with sales of adult activity books such as colouring books in the run-up to Christmas boosting its books business, the company reported.

Total sales were up 4% (2% like-for-like) to £633m, with Travel up 11% (5% like-for-like). However total sales in its High Street business dropped 1% (flat like-for-like).

Group profit before tax was £80m, a rise of 11% on the first-half 2015 (£72m). In Travel, profit rose 9% year-on-year to £35m, and in High Street, 6% year-on-year to £53m.

Group chief executive Stephen Clarke said the performance of the Travel division had been boosted by growing passenger numbers and the company's first airport shops in Spain and Germany. The company won a further 17 units outside of the UK in the first half of the year, including units in Alicante and Dusseldorf airports, and an additional unit in Melbourne.

“In High Street, the flat like-for-like sales – our best performance for many years – were driven by a very strong performance of seasonal products over the key five week Christmas period," he said. "Stationery sales were particularly strong, driven by investment in new product ranges and both our Stationery and Books business continue to benefit from strong sales in adult activity books, such as colour therapy, extreme dot-to-dot and querkles [colouring by numbers].

He added: “In March we announced our new exclusive Book Club for young adults headed by the UK‟s most popular vlogger and bestselling author, Zoe Sugg. The 'Zoella Book Club' will help us to further strengthen our position in a key part of the market."