WH Smith profits up despite falling sales

Sales at WH Smith fell for the sixth year in a row, but profits at the retailer rose 6 per cent as its new chief executive Steve Clarke continued the focus on cost-cutting established under his predecessor Kate Swann.

Shares in the company still jumped more than 5 per cent to 882p as WH Smith increased its dividend by 15 per cent and promised to spend another £50m on share buybacks. That means a total of £536m handed back to shareholders since 2007.

Mr Clarke revealed sales fell by 5 per cent to £1.19bn. Like-for-like sales dropped 6 per cent at its high street stores while its travel stores in airports, stations and hospitals lost 4 per cent.

However, pre-tax profits rose by 6 per cent to £108m, up 5 per cent in travel and 4 per cent in its high street business. A further £22m of cost savings will be made over the next three years in its high-street portfolio, but Mr Clarke insisted this would not be at the expense of staff cuts or under-investment in stores.

There had been criticism that some of the high street stores were starting to look rundown and tired, with a Twitter campaign highlighting the state of some floorings.

But Mr Clarke said: "I'm not sure I accept the premise. We have 615 stores and we have a lot of lovely stores. The ones highlighted on Twitter were earmarked for new carpets already. We have a very high footfall and a very high carpet turnover."

Four new high street stores were opened during the year, while in travel WH Smith launched 30 new stores in the UK and 40 overseas, with 47 more due next year.

Mr Clarke admitted that the gulf between its high street and travel operations would continue to widen, citing more opportunities for growth in the latter. He also revealed that the 82 Post Office branches in stores would remain for another five years and a further 16 would be added.

Meanwhile, WH Smith has been forced to restate last year's results after it was told by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) that it had incorrectly reported its pension contributions. The FRC said these should have been added to its overall liabilities. It means WH Smith reduced net assets from £145m to £95m in 2012 and cut profit after tax by £4m, although pre-tax profits were unaffected.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum