WHSmith chief executive Kate Swann sold more than £2.3m worth of her shares, triggering a 22p drop in the retailer’s share price to 537p yesterday.

The Wednesday sell-off reduces her holding in the company by almost 40%. Swann sold the shares just as the price hit 550 3/4p per share - a record high for this century.

In the same week, WHSmith managing director of high street Stephen Clarke sold more than £500,000 of shares, while strategy director Neil Monnery sold almost £270,000 of shares, according to The Times.

WHSmith posted Christmas trading figures last week, revealing  a 5% drop in like-for-likes over the 21 weeks to January 21, while total group sales declined 3%.

But profits remained in line with expectations as Swann’s business efficiency programme continues to drive earnings.