Weather hits WH Smith sales figures

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Like-for-like sales at WH Smith's high street stores slumped seven per cent in the eight weeks to January 22

The snow has bitten into sales figures from WH Smith but the stationery and books chain offset the weather misery by revealing a boost to margins.

Like-for-like sales at its high street stores slumped 7% in the eight weeks to January 22, compared to a 4% decline in the previous quarter.

At railway stations, airports and other travel hubs, the company reported a 3% decline in the 21 weeks to the same date but accompanied this with a better-than-expected update on margins as it focuses on costs and more profitable stock.

Chief executive Kate Swann described the performance of both divisions as resilient and said the company remained on track to meet expectations.

She added: “Our staff worked extremely hard during this period to maintain the best possible service for our customers.”

Analysts had been expecting a 5% like-for-like sales decline at the high street stores and a 1% fall at travel stores in the period, but those predictions were made before the Arctic weather hit trading.

WH Smith’s like-for-like sales have declined in recent months, as the company moves away from lower-margin entertainment items such as CDs and DVDs and concentrates on selling its core range of confectionery and stationery.

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