WHSmith posted a surge in pre-tax profits bolstered by its travel division, whose total sales surpassed its high street division for the first time.

The general merchandise retailer recorded a 7% boost in preliminary pre-tax profits year-on-year to £140m in the year to August 31, over 60% of which came from WHSmith’s travel division.

Overall travel revenue and trading profit in the retailer’s travel division both outpaced the performance of its high street stores, and were up 9% and 10% to £96m respectively.

WHSmith’s like-for-like sales across its travel outlets rose 4%.

By contrast, the retailer’s high street revenue was down 5% and like-for-like sales slumped 4%, while its trading profit was flat at £62m.

This mixed performance across its different stores division mean that the general merchandise retailer’s overall like-for-like sales were flat and group revenue was up 2%.

By year-end WHSmith operated 815 stores across travel locations worldwide, up from 768 the previous year, 582 of which are in the UK.

The retailer’s high street division ended the year with 611 high street outlets, down from 612 the previous year.

Chief executive Stephen Clarke said “We have delivered a good performance across the group.

“For the first time, revenue in travel has overtaken high street and travel is now the largest part of the group in both revenue and profit. Profit in travel is up 10% to £96m, now over 60% of group trading profit.

“During our 225th anniversary year, we were delighted to open our 225th international store and now have 233 stores open. We have won 273 stores across 25 countries, including new stores in Singapore and Rome.

“The High Street business performed well – matching the particularly strong profit performance from last year.”