W H Smith ‘won market share’ at Christmas

W H Smith ‘won market share’ at Christmas

W H Smith says it increased its market share over the Christmas period, with retail analysts estimating that like-for-like book sales at the retailer dropped by around 7%.

On Wednesday (25th January), the high street bookseller reported group sales were down by 5% like for like in the 21 weeks to 21st January, with sales at its High Street arm down 6%, and its Travel arm down by 3%.

Daily Retailer analyst Nick Bubb said: “WHS book sales were only down by 7%–8% like for like in the period, with a very small increase in gross margin, despite a very tough and promotional market and weak non-fiction releases.” Jonathan Pritchard, analyst at Oriel Securities, said: “Non-fiction performance was poor, but then it was very poor for everybody.” He added: “W H Smith will have grown earnings by 70% this year, which not many retailers will have done . . . I would say this positive story will only continue in the short term.”

A WHS spokesperson said the retailer had had “strong shares in key releases”, including Guinness World Records 2012, The Faithless by Martina Cole and Jamie’s Great Britain.

“The books market continues to vary by genre, with children’s continuing to be resilient,” the spokesperson added. “Non-fiction continues to be affected by the publishing schedule year on year, and this Christmas we were up against Jamie’s 30-minute Meals from last year, Jamie’s bestselling book ever. Fiction is impacted in part due to weaker publishing year on year, and partly due to e-books. We have, however, grown share in all three categories, reflecting our appeal to customers.”