WHSmith chief executive Kate Swann last week sold a tranche of shares in the retailer.

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

Arden analyst Nick Bubb said investors are always tempted to “follow the bear”, but stuck to his buy advice. He said: “Management are well incentivised to deliver good earnings-per-share growth and, having seen the success of the first two management incentive plans, we have not doubt at all that Kate Swann will deliver the next target, so we would give her a break.”

Seymour Pierce analyst Kate Calvert was also 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.