High street sales fall at WH Smith

Press Release   •   Jun 14, 2013 12:21 BST

WH Smith suffered a sharp drop in sales after the newsagent and bookseller focused on improving its margin as part of its outgoing chief executive's long-term plan to reshape the business.

Group sales were down six per cent compared to the same period last year, while sales from its travel unit - based largely at airports and railway stations - were down four per cent.

On the high street, sales fell eight per cent, due largely to a failure to match last summer's impressive sales of Fifty Shades of Grey, which triggered demand for other erotic tales and resulted in a bumper period for the retailer.

However, in the last trading statement overseen by outgoing chief executive Kate Swann before she retires at the end of the month, WH Smith said its balance sheet remains strong and it continues to generate "high levels of cash" from its operations.

"We confirm that our financial position is in line with market expectations and our balance sheet remains strong. We continue to generate high levels of cash from our operations,' WH Smith said.

Management said on Thursday that consumer spending would be stilted while economic uncertainty remained.

"The economic environment remains uncertain and whilst we continue to be cautious about consumer spending, we remainconfident in the outcome for the full year," the company said.

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