• WHSmith expects profit growth to be “slightly ahead of plan” for the year.
  • Like-for-like sales grew 2% in its high-street arm over the five-week Christmas period to January 2.
  • Over the 20 weeks to January 16, group like-for-likes edged up 2%, driven by 5% like-for-like rise at WHSmith’s travel division. High-street arm remained flat.

WHSmith expects profit growth to be “slightly ahead of plan” as adult colouring books boost sales at its high-street arm over Christmas.

In the five weeks to January 2, like-for-likes rose 2% in WHSmith’s high-street arm, helped by successful promotions in stationery and seasonal, and the continued good sales in ‘colour therapy’ books. Gross margin rose 100 basis points over the period.

Over the wider 20 weeks to January 16, the high-street arm remained flat. However, a 5% jump in like-for-likes at WHSmith’s travel stores helped group like-for-likes advance 2%.

Total sales grew 4% over the 20 weeks, with travel sales surging 12%.

WHSmith group chief executive Stephen Clarke said: “As a result of the strong sales performance in high street over the five week Christmas period, we expect profit growth for the year to be slightly ahead of plan.

“Looking forward, profitable growth and cash generation will remain central to our plans allowing us to invest in new opportunities for the future.”