Bookseller and stationer WHSmith has posted a 2% increase in first-half group pre-tax profits to £62m but cautious about prospects.

The retailer’s sales fell to £716m in the six months to February 28 versus £731m in the comparable period last year, and like-for-likes slipped 4%.

Chief executive Kate Swann said: “We have delivered a good performance. Looking forward, we remain cautious about consumer spending and our plans reflect this. We are confident in the outcome for the full year.”

WHSmith’s travel store sales were up 2% altogether and like-for-likes down by the same amount. High street total and like-for-like sales fell 4%, which the retailer said was in line with its strategic plan.

The travel division’s operating profit climbed 15% to £23m. The figure at the high street arm was flat at £47m.

Book like-for-like sales fell 4% but gross margin was up. The retailer said books had been soft over Christmas as a result of a poor non-fiction publishing roster.

Stationery like-for-likes rose 2% and gross margin improved.