WHSmith like-for-likes dropped 4% in the first 10 weeks of its financial year.

Total group sales fell 3% in the period to November 10.

WHSmith’s travel arm like-for-likes slipped 4%, while total sales in the division were flat. However, gross margin increased “in line with our plan”, according to the retailer.

Its high street division like-for-likes fell 5%, with gross margin again increasing. The retailer said costs continued to be managed tightly.

WHSmith is pushing ahead with its share buy-back programme. It has so far returned £6m of the planned £50m it intends to buy back from shareholders.

The retailer said: “Whilst the current climate continues to be challenging, we remain a resilient business and are well positioned for continued profitable growth.”