WH Smith
WH Smith's interim profit rose 11% year-on-year.Getty

WHSmith reported a sharp increase in earnings for the first six months of its financial year on the back of what the retailer described as a strong performance across the board.

In the six months to 29 February, the FTSE 250-listed company saw profit before tax up 11% year-on-year to £80m, while diluted earnings per share were up 13% to 57.4p and total group sales were up 4%.

The group attributed the increase in profit to a strong performance in its travel division - which covers WHSmith branches in train and airports - where profit was up 9% from the corresponding period in 2015 and sales were 11% higher.

The group's high street trading fared slightly worse, as sales declined 1% even though profit rose 6% on an annual basis. The retailer has implemented a number of cost-cutting measures in its high street division, with £5m in annual costs taken out in the first half and a further £4m expected to be saved in the second six months of the year.

On a like-for-like basis, group sales were up 2% with travel sales growing 5% and high street sales flat, while total group revenue climbed 3.6% to £633m.

"The group has delivered a strong first half with both our travel and high street businesses performing well," said group chief executive Stephen Clarke.

"The travel performance reflects our ongoing investment in the UK business and growing passenger numbers while internationally we have now secured over 200 stores, including our first airport shops in Spain and Germany."

Clarke added the company, which will pay an interim dividend of 13.4p, up 11% on a year earlier, remained on track to achieve its full-year goals.

"Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in the business to position us well for the future," he said.