WHSmith said despite the volcanic ash cloud hitting sales as airport stores closed, its “financial position is in line with market expectations”.

The bookseller and stationer also revealed it has hired former Signet finance director Walker Boyd as chairman, replacing Robert Walker. Boyd will take up the position on September 1.

Group like-for-likes dropped 4% in the 14 weeks to June 5 while total group sales declined 3%.

Like-for-likes fell 4% in both its high street stores and its travel stores. But the retailer said without the volcanic ash disruption, travel like-for-likes would have declined just 2%. WHSmith said: “While

airport passenger numbers have, as expected, remained soft, we continue to outperform.”

It added: “The economic environment remains uncertain and while we continue to be cautious about consumer spending, we remain confident for the full year.”

Shore Capital analyst Kate Calvert said: “No surprises from WHSmith. Management had already highlighted at its first-half results that the volcanic ash disruptions had impacted its travel sales but the profit impact was minimal.”