WHSmith has reported soaring group profits, but both total and like-for-like sales dropped.

Group pre-tax profits in the year to August 31 were£76 million – up from£44 million last year. Profits from the high street stores climbed 5 per cent to£44 million.

However, overall like-for-likes slumped 4 per cent and dropped 6 per cent at the high street business. Total sales declined 3 per cent and 6 per cent in the high street business. WHSmith said the drop reflects its strategy to “rebalance the mix” of its high street business towards its core categories.

Profits from its travel division were up 16 per cent to£36 million, with like-for-like growth of 2 per cent and total sales up 6 per cent.

Group chief executive Kate Swann said: "We have delivered another year of strong profit performance, with group profits up 29 per cent and strong free cashflow of£81 million. Our travel business grew strongly and our high street business made further progress in line with its plan. In an uncertain consumer environment, we expect the key Christmas season to be very competitive, however we have planned accordingly."