WH Smith bets on travel to ease its high street woes
Friday 08 July 2011
WH Smith posted another fall in sales yesterday, but the magazine and stationery retailer said the pace of declines had eased. It added that its profit margins had improved as a result of cost-cutting.
The group expressed confidence in its full-year results as it posted a 1 per cent decline in total sales for the first 18 weeks of its second half, to 2 July. Like-for-like sales were down 4 per cent against a year ago, an improvement on the 21 weeks to 22 January, when they were down by 5 per cent.
Yesterday's update also showed that sales at the company's travel stores at airports and stations were up by 2 per cent, with the like-for-like figure down by a similar amount. The high street business saw a 3 per cent decline in sales, with the like-for-like figure down by 4 per cent in the 18 months to the beginning of July.
The performances marked an improvement from the retailer's last update. Recent months had seen further "gross margin expansion", the company said, adding that at its new store-opening programme was continuing to make progress. It also said that its cost savings were on target.
But WH Smith was careful to acknowledge the tough retail backdrop, saying: "The economic environment remains uncertain and while we continue to be cautious about consumer spending, we remain confident in the outcome for the full year."
The message was welcomed in the City, with Panmure Gordon's analyst Philip Dorgan saying that WH Smith's shares deserved to trade at a "substantial premium to the sector". The positive assessment was echoed by Kate Calvert at Seymour Pierce, who highlighted the company's "strong management team", led by its chief executive, Kate Swann.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...