• Profits in half-year jump 11% to £80m
  • Group like-for-likes rise 2% 
  • Travel like-for-likes up 5%; high street like-for-likes flat
  • Expects to make £4m more cost savings on high street
  • Plans to move up to 61 more Post Office branches into stores over next 12 months

WHSmith has posted an 11% jump in half-year profits as the business reported a strong performance from its travel division. 

The retailer said today that pre-tax profits in the six months to February hit £80m. Group sales rose 4% to £633m, while like-for-likes rose 2%. 

WHSmith was boosted by its travel division where like-for-likes rose 5% as total sales jumped 11%.

Boss Steve Clarke said: “The travel performance reflects our ongoing investment in the UK business and growing passenger numbers while internationally we have now secured over 200 stores, including our first airport shops in Spain and Germany.”

However the retailer had a softer performance on the high street, where like-for-like store sales were flat and total sales fell 1%. Trading profit at the division, which has 618 stores, rose 6% to £53m. 

But Clarke added: “In high street, the flat like-for-like sales – our best performance for many years – were driven by a very strong performance of seasonal products over the key five-week Christmas period.

“Stationery sales were particularly strong, driven by investment in new product ranges and both our Stationery and Books business continue to benefit from strong sales in adult activity books, such as colour therapy, extreme dot-to-dot and querkles.”

The retailer said it made £5m of cost savings in its high street unit in the period. In the second half it plans to make £4m of cost cuts. 

”These savings come from right across the business, including rent savings at lease renewal, a more efficient store operating model through greater use of technology and productivity improvements in our distribution centres,” the retailer said. 

Meanwhile, WHSmith also revealed its plans to add up to 61 more Post Office branch stores in the next 12 months, to add to the 107 it already has. The new agreement runs for 10 years. 

“This new deal reflects our continuous focus on space management to create sustainable profit streams, and cements our position in the heart of the communities in which we operate,” it said.  

The results comes after WHSmith reported a 2% rise in like-for-likes over Christmas.

In December it emerged that boss Steve Clarke had bagged a 55% pay rise, meaning a total package of £3.9m, after the retailer posted its best sales performance for 13 years.