WHSmith deal to revive book sales

WHSmith has launched a promotional onslaught in its high street shops and its Internet site to drive book sales.

The retailer is offering three books for the price of two on all fiction titles in stores. The same deal is being offered on 600 titles via Internet site whsmith.co.uk.

The high street promo began last week and will last four weeks, representing the first month of the second half of its financial year.

Online, there is also a 25 per cent discount on 100,000 titles 'ranging from top new releases to old favourites'.

Analyst Nick Bubb at Evolution Beeson Gregory said the drive could be a reaction to poor Christmas book sales.

He said: 'They had a disappointing Christmas, where they lost market share to some of the specialist booksellers. They admitted they got the balance wrong between margins and sales.' Bubb believed the promotional drive indicates the retailer is now following a strategy of driving sales.

After Christmas, WHSmith said like-for-like sales at its UK retail division for the 20 weeks to January 18 were down by 3 per cent, while gross margin increased by 2 per cent.

WHSmith also said that during the period it had taken a decision not to chase sales, while it attempted to improve operational efficiencies.