WH Smith to trial greeting cards stores on the high street

Stationery retailer WH Smith is to test a new high street format as it looks for further growth after posting a 9 per cent rise in annual profits yesterday.

WH Smith has reported a 9 pet cent increase in annual profits.

The chain, which has 725 travel stores and a further 604 on the high street, is planning a small number of greeting cards stores branded Cardmarket.

WH Smith said: “In contrast to our existing greeting cards offer, which is at the premium end of the market, these stores will provide customers with a value-based proposition in this growing part of the market. The trial will be in relatively low rent, short term leases in non-prime pitch locations.”

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The company disclosed the plan as it said pre-tax profits rose 9 per cent to £112m in the year to August, despite a 2 per cent fall in revenues to £1.2bn.

The performance reflects the group’s continued strategy of cutting costs at its high street shops and expanding its travel business.

Like-for-like sales in both parts of the group have been consistently negative since 2005 but the retailer’s policy of focusing instead on margins is admired by City analysts.

The travel division’s trading profit increased by 11 per cent to £73m with sales up 4 per cent compared to last year and flat on a like-for-like basis, reflecting an improvement in passenger trends.

Chief executive Stephen Clarke said: “Our focus will remain on profitable growth, cash generation and investing in new opportunities that position us well for the future.”