WHSmith delivered another strong set of profits for the six months to February 29, but like-for-like sales fell.

The airport and high street bookseller posted group pre-tax profits up 8 per cent to£64 million and said margin had improved by 70 basis points year on year.

Total group sales rose 2 per cent, but WHSmith’s like-for-likes were 2 per cent down, which it said reflected its strategy to rebalance the mix of its high street business towards core categories.

While like-for-likes at its travel business climbed 1 per cent, high street sales fell 3 per cent like-for-like.

WHSmith group chief executive Kate Swann said: “We have seen further strong performance from travel, with substantial progress in new business development in the hospital, air and motorway channels. In the high street, we successfully continue to deliver our strategy to rebuild our authority in our core categories.

“The economic environment remains uncertain and, while we continue to be cautious, we are confident in the outcome for the full year.”

WHSmith also announced it has reached an agreement with Alpha Retail UK to acquire 23 units at 11 airports. It has also secured 8 new units, which are due to open later this year, including two bookstores at Manchester airport, a CTN outlet at London’s City airport and five units at Copenhagen airport.