It isn’t just the recipients of spoof humour books who have been left chuckling post-Christmas – WHSmith is laughing too, all the way to the bank.

The success of the comic Ladybird series and Enid Blyton parodies, such as Five on Brexit Island, helped the high street stalwart grow sales in the 21 weeks to January 21 – and prompted it to bullishly state today that full-year profits would be “slightly ahead of plan.”

Its travel business was again the star pupil, delivering a 5% jump in like-for-likes, while same-store sales on the high street fell 3% against tough comparatives.

In such a competitive retail environment, perhaps WHSmith simply does not get the credit it deserves for its ongoing doggedness and durability over more than two centuries.

Despite its critics, as WHSmith celebrates its 225th year, the retailer appears as relevant and resilient as ever.

There was less positive news for Tesco today as the grocery giant was hit with another legal claim in relation to its 2014 accounting scandal.

And its big four rival Asda revealed in its latest Income Tracker that inflation has reached its highest level since July 2014 and could start to squeeze consumer spending.

Quote of the day

“Rising inflation is clearly weighing on the growth in spending power now. Price increases in most product categories – from meals in restaurants to air fares – reduce the spending power of UK households.” – Cebr economist Kay Neufeld

Today in numbers

31,000 sq ft

The selling space that Primark has added to its Oxford Street flagship store, which we visited today.


The amount Asos founder Nick Robertson bagged today by selling off 300,000 shares in the online business.

Tomorrow’s agenda

Card Factory updates the market with its Christmas trading performance and our cameras catch up with Holland & Barrett boss Peter Aldis at its newest store on London’s Oxford Street.  

Luke Tugby, deputy news editor