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WH Smith's train station and airport sales lift high street decline

PUBLISHED: 11:06 06 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:06 06 June 2018

Wh Smith has reported a fall in high street sales in its third quarter results. Picture: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Wh Smith has reported a fall in high street sales in its third quarter results. Picture: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

A strong performance in WH Smith’s travel arm helped offset a decline in high street sales.

The retailers reported a 4% rise in group sales over the 13 weeks to June 2, while like-for-like sales grew 1%.

The figures were supported by an 8% rise in its travel business – encompassing shops in places like train stations and airports – where like-for-like sales grew 3%.

It offset a 1% drop in total and like-for-like sales in high street stores in the quarter – but WH Smith stressed that it was its “quietest trading period”.

It further defended the discrepancy by reporting gross margins have continued to improve and cost savings have been delivered in line with its plans.

Chief executive Stephen Clarke said: “We have delivered a good sales performance in the third quarter in both our travel and high street businesses.

“Whilst there is some uncertainty in the broader economic environment, WH Smith serves millions of customers each week and continues to grow both internationally and in the UK.

“We continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in the business to position us well for the future. We remain confident in the outcome for the full year.”

The company, which was voted the UK’s worse high street shop in a Which? poll last week, said new store openings are on track for its travel business, having targeted between 15 and 20 new sites in the UK this year.

Across its international business, WH Smith said it was set to open eight units in Madrid Airport, bringing the total number of international sites to 282.

A further 10 locations are due to open this year at the global division.

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