WHSmith pre-tax profit rose 3% to £69m despite like-for-like sales falling 4% in its first half as cost saving continues at the business.

Group sales also fell 4% in the six months to February 28.

Like-for-likes in its high street stores dropped 6% and total sales slumped 7%. However, trading profit edged up 2% to £49m. WHSmith said it had delivered £9m in cost savings from its high street business over the first half with a further £5m identified.

Meanwhile, in its travel stores like-for-likes dipped 1% and total sales edged up 2%, but trading profit increased 3% to £30m.

The retailer said it had made “good progress” in growing its travel business overseas with over 150 units signed for. WHSmith is on track to open 30 travel units in the UK this year.

Gross margin across the group improved by 190 basis points

WHSmith group chief executive Stephen Clarke said: “The group has delivered another strong performance, with profit growth in Travel and High Street, demonstrating the continuing success of our strategy.  “Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in new opportunities that position us well for future growth.”