High-street retailer WHSmith has reported in its latest trading statement a strong performance across the Group for the 20 weeks to 19 January 2019.
Excluding the results for its recent US acquisition, pure play retailer InMotion, total Group sales were up 3% and like-for-like sales were flat.
In Travel, total sales were up 8% (excluding InMotion) with like-for-like sales up 3%. High Street business traded well during the period, with continued growth for gross margin, but with like-for-like sales down 2%. Stationery was a key driver in high-street sales.
The Group reported that the cost-efficiency initiative announced in October 2018 continues to make good progress, and that it was on track to continue with its store opening programme, with 20 new units planned for the year.
Stephen Clarke, Group Chief Executive said: “The Group has delivered a strong trading performance with total sales up 6% and like-for-like sales flat.
“High Street delivered a good performance, particularly in Stationery, driven by good growth in Christmas cards, wrap, diaries and fashion stationery.
“Our Travel business continued to grow across all channels. This was driven by our ongoing investment in the business, including the roll out of our new concept stores at Heathrow, and growth in air passenger numbers. InMotion delivered an impressive sales performance over the Christmas period and integration into the Group is progressing well.”
Although WHSmith’s group shares have fallen by 11% over the past year, they have outperformed many other high-street retailers over a longer period. In the current tough trading climate, they should be considered one of the high street’s business success stories, offering a lesson in resilience.