Retailer WH Smith today maintained an upbeat outlook despite tough high street conditions denting sales in both arms of its business.
The company said total group sales fell by 1% in the 18 weeks to July 2, and fell 4% on a like-for-like basis in the same period.
The high street division saw total sales drop by 3% and like-for-like sales by 4%, though the firm said gross margins continue to grow in both arms helped by costs savings.
Elsewhere, the travel business, which operates from more than 530 outlets at airports, train stations and motorway service areas, increased sales by 2%, but once new openings are stripped out, like-for like sales fell by 2%.
WH Smith’s strategy recently has been to cut out out products with low margins, such as CDs and DVDs, to focus on core areas of news, magazines, books and stationery, a move that has impacted sales but boosted profits.