WH Smith
WH Smith David Sillitoe

Shares in WH Smith were up on the FTSE 250 in morning trading, despite the retailer reporting a fall in sales in the 21 weeks to 22 January 2011.

Total sales were down four per cent in the period, while on a like for like basis sales declined five per cent.

The group's High Street business reported a fall in like for like sales of six per cent. The decline was attributed to "the challenging operational environment in the pre-Christmas period".

In its Travel division WH Smith saw like for like sale drop three per cent, again due to the poor weather cutting passenger numbers at airports.

Since 14 October WH Smith said that it had bought back 3.6 million shares at an average price of 485.886 pence per share.

Kate Swann, Chief Executive of WH Smith, said, "During the period we saw a resilient performance across both our High Street and Travel divisions, despite challenging weather conditions. Our staff worked extremely hard during this period to maintain the best possible service for our customers. With gross margin ahead of plan and costs tightly controlled, overall performance for the period was in line with expectations.

"Looking ahead, we expect the trading environment to remain challenging and we have planned accordingly."

By 09:40 shares in WH Smith were up 0.67 per cent on the FTSE 250 to 484.00 pence per share.