WHSmith said its like-for-like sales decline was worsened by the affect of the volcanic ash cloud, as it revealed it has hired Walker Boyd as its non-executive chairman.

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

Like-for-likes decreased 4% in its high street stores as well as its travel stores. However, the retailer said without the volcanic ash disruption, travel like-for-likes would have declined just 2%.

WHSmith said: “Whilst airport passenger numbers have, as expected, remained soft, we continue to outperform.”

It added: “We confirm that our financial position is in line with market expectations and our balance sheet remains strong.

“The economic environment remains uncertain and whilst we continue to be cautious about consumer spending, we remain confident in the outcome for the full year.”

Boyd replaces Robert Walker as non-executive chairman and will take up the position on September 1. Boyd re-joined the WHSmith board in February as a non-executive director.

Luke Mayhew will also step down from his position as a non-executive director, on August 31. He will be replaced by Henry Staunton, who is non-executive director of several companies including New Look.

WHSmith group chief executive Kate Swann said: “The Board and I are delighted that Walker Boyd has agreed to become chairman of WHSmith.  Walker has extensive retail and finance experience which will serve the Company and its shareholders well.”