WHSmith chief executive Kate Swann has sold a substantial proportion of her shares in the bookseller and stationer.

Swann unloaded 345,846 shares yesterday at just over 476p each, representing about 27% of her stake in WHSmith. She retains more than 900,000 shares, worth £4.4m.

Seymour Pierce analyst Kate Calvert was relaxed about the disposal. She said: “She has been a regular seller of shares over her tenure, last selling shares in November 2009, so we read nothing sinister into her actions.

“Indeed, the management team received shares in November from the achievement of a lucrative three-year long-term incentive plan.”

Calvert said: “Kate Swann and her team have been the architects behind the turnaround of WHSmith and transformed the business back into a growth story through its travel business, and established its high street business as a high return, cash generative machine by recognising changing market dynamics and adjusting the offer to suit.”