WH Smith records 9% full-year profit rise

<p>WH Smith has enjoyed a strong performance for the first half of the year.</p>

WH Smith has enjoyed "strong performance" over the course of the year, reporting an increase in full-year profits.

The stationery and bookstore chain saw a nine per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £112 million for the year to August 31st. It was a significant jump on the £103 million recorded during the same period 12 months earlier. WH Smith also announced a share buyback scheme of "up to £50 million" following the positive performance of its travel division.

WH Smith's travel division represented the driving force behind its rise in pre-tax profits. The sector is made up of outlets at airports, railway stations, motorway services, hospitals and workplaces. Total sales at these stores grew by four per cent adding towards an overall boost in profits across its operations.

Stephen Clarke, chief executive of the company, said in a statement: "It is important to acknowledge that this performance would not be possible without the continued commitment and hard work of all our colleagues across the business.

"Looking ahead, our focus will remain on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in new opportunities that position us well for the future.”

WH Smith has bucked the trend somewhat of the High Street delivering a four per cent increase in trading profit to £58 million. However, sales had dropped six per cent but the company stated that it had identified an additional £11 million of new cost savings, which it expects to rise to £21 million over the next three years.

The chain's success on the High Street comes after a study by PwC and the Local Data Company highlighted a drop in the number of shops on the High Street. The research found that town centre had seen 964 net closures between January and September, a two-and-a-half times jump on the net reduction on the entire of 2013.

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