WH SMITH PLC
Good profit performance across the Group
WH Smith PLC is today providing an update on its trading performance for the 20 weeks to 20 January 2013.
The Group delivered a good profit performance in the period with margin well managed and costs tightly controlled throughout the business. Total sales were down 4% with like-for-like (LFL) sales down 5% for the 20 weeks.
In Travel, total sales were flat with LFL sales down 4% for the 20 weeks and we saw further improvement in gross margin. Our new store development programme continues to progress well and we have identified further opportunities for growth both in the UK and internationally.
In High Street, total sales were down 5% with LFL sales down 5% for the 20 weeks. Gross margin improved strongly in the period in line with plan and costs were tightly managed, reflecting the trading conditions.
The Group remains highly cash generative with a strong balance sheet. Further to our announcement on 23 August 2012 of our intention to return up to £50m of cash to shareholders via a share buyback programme, as of 22 January 2013, we have purchased 2.48 million shares at an average price of £6.38.
Commenting on today's announcement, Kate Swann, Group Chief Executive said:
"During the period we saw a good profit performance across the Group. Margin was well managed and costs were tightly controlled throughout the business.
"Looking ahead, we expect the trading environment to remain challenging however we are a resilient business with a consistent record of both profit growth and cash generation, and are confident in making further progress in the year."