WHSmith’s trading update last week reinforced analysts’ bullish stance on the retailer.

Citi “remain enthusiastic buyers”, said analyst Ben Spruntulis, pointing to its “best-in-class management team and high forecast visibility”, and ability to “drive gross margins”.

In the 10 weeks to November 7, WHSmith performed in line with management expectations. High street like-for-likes fell 4%, while at the travel arm the decline was 2%.  Total group sales slid 1%.

Credit Suisse analyst Tony Shiret expects more news on WHSmith’s international travel format to “reinforce the buy case over the next six months”. He maintained: “This is a very scalable business in our view.”

WHSmith said: “Whilst we remain cautious about the consumer environment and anticipate competitive trading in our markets over the key Christmas period, we have planned accordingly.”