UK. WHSmith Travel sales climbed by +7% year-on-year in the 20-week trading period to 20 January, the company said today. Like-for-like sales in the division rose by +3%. The Travel business now accounts for almost two thirds of the group’s annual profit.
CEO Stephen Clarke said: “We have continued to see good sales growth across all of our key channels and gross margin continues to grow in line with plan driven by category mix management. Our store opening programme in the UK is on track and we expect to open around 15 new units this year. Our new large airport stores in Gatwick and Stansted opened in the period and are performing well with good feedback from both landlords and customers.”
The news & books specialist’s international business continues to grow with 249 units now open, including two of the ten units it won at Singapore Changi Airport last year. The balance of these will open by Spring, confirmed Clarke.
The Travel division grew at a rate well ahead of total sales, which were flat year-on-year and down by -1% on a like-for-like basis.
Clarke added: “Looking ahead, while there is some uncertainty in the broader economic environment, we remain confident that the group is well positioned for the year ahead as we continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in new opportunities.”