WH Smith reports rise in profits

<p>The chain has seen a four per cent jump in profits, despite falling high street sales.</p>

Retail chain WH Smith has reported a four per cent increase in half-year profits, bringing the figure to £72 million.

This is despite a drop in high street sales, which five per cent in the six months to February.

It's the firm's travel division – which comprises 740 units at airports, train stations and motorway services – that has seen the most improvement. Its seven per cent increase in sales has contributed to the company's positive report.

The retailer's last trading update was in January. At the time, like-for-like sales for the group were down two per cent , with high street figures falling five per cent. However, profits were increasing according to expectations.

In addition, WH Smith is returning up to £50 million to shareholders. It has cut £6 million of costs from the business in the half-year and a further £5 million of cuts are expected for the next six-month period.

Chief executive officer Stephen Clarke said that the company is seeing "improving trends" across the travel side of the business. This is an economic environment with robust growth. He also believes the current housing market and fuel costs will add to consumer confidence.

"Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on profitable growth and cash generation while investing in new opportunities in both travel and high street that position us well for the future," he added.

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