WHSmith said it delivered a “resilient” performance despite a 5% drop in like-for-likes over the 21 weeks to January 21.

Total group sales declined 3%.

The stationery and books retailer said profit is in line with expectations.

Like-for-likes plunged 6% across its high street stores as total sales declined 5% in the period.

Its travel stores fared better with like-for-likes down 3% and total sales up 2%.

WHSmith said its store opening programme across travel destinations continues and more “opportunities for growth in the UK and internationally” are being identified.

Gross margin continued to improve across both high street and travel stores.

WHSmith group chief executive Kate Swann said annual profits have been spread more evenly across the year, following a balancing of its store portfolio.

“Over the past six years both businesses have consistently increased profits and the group is now well balanced between Travel and High Street,” she said.

“As a result of this, the months of November and December now represent less than half of annual Group profit compared to over 90% of Group profit six years ago.

“Looking ahead, we expect the trading environment to be challenging however we have planned accordingly and continue to be confident in making further progress in the year.”