WHSmith is to open stores in Russia as part of an international expansion strategy.

The books and stationery retailer will open in Russia next year. Yulia Sokolova, leasing director at property consultant Knight Frank, said the firm has been hired to scout store locations, Reuters reported.

Russia has become an increasingly attractive market for international retailers as sales across western Europe remain sluggish.

Earlier this year Mamas & Papas revealed it is to join the likes of Kingfisher, Marks & Spencer and Next in the market.

WHSmith now has more than 100 international units in locations including Dubai, France, India, Ireland, Oman and Sweden, and aims to expand into new markets in Europe.

Overseas growth has been a key weapon in departing chief executive Kate Swann’s armoury. Swann has used international expansion and new travel stores to offset poor high street sales.

WHSmith also acquired Australian cafe business ‘Fresh Plus’, consisting of five cafes in hospitals in Australia earlier this year.