WH Smith profits from cost cutting work

WH Smith store
Image caption WH Smith operates more than 1,000 stores

WH Smith has reported a 4.5% rise in annual profits, as cost-cutting work and efforts to improve its margins offset a fall in sales.

The newspapers, books and stationery retailer made a pre-tax profit of £93m in the year to 31 August, compared with £89m 12 months earlier.

Its like-for-like sales, which strips out new store openings, fell 5%.

WH Smith said: "The economic conditions remain challenging, however we have planned accordingly."

The company has more than 1,000 stores, primarily in the UK, comprising 581 High Street outlets, and 532 Travel stores at airports, train stations, hospitals, workplaces and motorway service areas.

WH Smith also announced that it was moving into the electronics books market, with a tie-up with Canadian group Kobo.

The retailer is to start selling two versions of Kobo's electronic book reader, from both its stores and website.

WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann said the move would "complement" the company's traditional print books business.

Annual sales of books at WH Smith were down by 4%.

Ms Swann added: "We are a resilient business with a strong and consistent record of both profit growth and cash generation and have opportunities for growth in both the UK and internationally."

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