Retail firm WHSmith has reported a 11% rise in profits from its travel division in the six months to 28 February. Profits from its travel arm – which covers WHSmith branches in train and airports – increased from £35m ($43.7m) in February 2016 to £39m in 2017.
The increase in passenger numbers largely attributed to the rise. The report reflects the firm's sound diversification strategy as it expands it high street presence.
The management has identified further growth opportunities as it plans to improve customer service and store layouts. A further expansion within the UK and abroad is also being considered.
The Swindon-based firm reported no change in its high street trading profit of £53m.
"The Group has delivered a good first half performance with earnings per share up 7%", remarked Group chief executive Stephen Clarke.
"In Travel, we continue to see strong sales growth, with like-for-likes up 5%, driven by continued investment in our UK and international businesses and growth in passenger numbers. As a result, profit in Travel was up 11% in the half.
"In our growing international business, we have now won 255 stores including 10 stores in Singapore following a significant tender win in Changi Airport - one of the world's largest international airports and a key hub in Asia," he said.
However, IG claimed that the outlook for WHSmith was "less rosy" due to rising inflation and weak wage growth causing a fall in real income within the UK.
Nonetheless, Clarke had an optimistic perspective on the looming uncertainty and said, "Looking ahead, 2017 is a significant year for us as we celebrate 225 years since the business was founded. And, while there is some uncertainty in the broader economic environment, we will continue to focus on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in the business which positions us well in the current year and into the future.