WHSmith has hailed a strong performance in its travel business in a pre-close update, adding that it has continued to improve high-street margin.
The retailer said that its travel business had achieved “good sales across all channels” in the 12 months to August 31 and that its new stores programme in both the UK and internationally was in line with its plans.
WHSmith has now opened its first three stores in Italy. Two are in Rome’s Fiumicino and Ciampino airports and the other is in Turin airport.
The retailer added that it continued “to see further opportunities in the international news, books and convenience travel market”.
WHSmith’s high-street business, which has, historically, failed to match the performance of its travel division, delivered cost savings and margin improvement in line with the retailer’s profit-focused strategy.
At its half-year, total high-street sales fell 4%, while like-for-likes fell by the same amount.
By contrast, travel sales rose 8% – with 2% of that from currency benefits at international stores – and like-for-likes climbed 5%.
The business will report its final results on October 12.