WHSmith’s high street profits and sales fell during its last year, with the business boosted by its travel arm
The business undertook a review of its high street arm during the second half and will close around six stores as a result.
It will also increase the focus on core categories, wind down non-core trial initiatives including Cardmarket and WHSmith Local and “restructure some operational activities”.
High street sales were down 3% on a total and like-for-like basis while the business’ travel arm sales were up 8% in total and 3% on a like-for-like basis. Total revenue climbed 2% in the year to August 2018.
Trading profits at its high street arm dipped 3% while travel trading profit was up 8%. Overall, group pre-tax profit was down 4% to £134m.
The group said that high street profits were the third highest in the past 15 years and followed on from two record years, which were driven by exceptional trends in the publishing industry.
However, it recognised the “challenging conditions” on UK high streets and instituted a review in its second half. As a result of that review it will close six high street shops, with a particular focus on stores with onerous leases, focus on core categories and wind down trials and restructure some operations.
Cost savings of £12m were delivered in the year at the business’ high street arm. An additional £10m cost savings have been identified over the next three years making a total of £19m, of which £9m are planned for 2018/19.
The business continued to expand its travel arm, opening 20 new UK units and 58 international units. It now operates 581 travel stores in the UK and 286 abroad.