Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 12:01 UK

WH Smith profit flat but sales up

WH Smith store
WH Smith is a household name

WH Smith has reported flat annual profits, but a strong performance by shops in airports and railway stations.

Helped by cost cuts, its pre-tax, post-exceptional profits totalled 76m for the year to 31 August, the same figure as a year earlier.

Like-for-like sales, excluding new store openings, were down 2%, although total sales were up 4%.

WH Smith said it was now planning for a "competitive" Christmas trading period as consumer spending continues to slow.

Travel outlets

While like-for-like sales at WH Smith's High Street stores fell 3% during the last year, they rose 1% at its travel business, which comprises its outlets at railway stations, airports and motorway service stops.

Overall, sales at the travel unit were up 22% due to acquisitions during the year.

Total sales across the group, including new store openings, were up 4% to 1.35bn from 1.30bn a year earlier.

Across the year, WH Smith said it achieved cost savings of 8m and also managed to increase product profit margins.

WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann said the firm had "delivered another year of good profit performance".

On a pre-exceptional basis, WH Smith's pre-tax profit rose 15% to 76m from 66m a year earlier.

Shares in the firm were up 7.6% in lunchtime trading in London.

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