WH Smith profits fall after US deal

Travel stores are WH Smith's best performing outlets
Travel stores are WH Smith's best performing outlets
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Retailer WH Smith has ​reported a 21 per cent fall in half​ ​year profits ​due to costs linked to its acquisition of ​American ​travel accessories retailer​ ​​InMotion and a restructuring programme.

The high street chain sa​id​ pre-tax profit ​fell from £82​m to £65​m in the six months to February 28.

WH Smith booked £9​m in costs linked to the deal to buy InMotion and another £7​m linked to ​its​ restructuring.

In October, the firm outlined a cost-saving programme which will see it shut a handful of UK high street stores and call time on new initiatives​. Instead, it will​ focus on growth opportunities for its chain of stores based at airports and railway stations.​ ​

With those costs stripped out, pre-tax profit was down 1​ per cent​ to £81​m.

Sales rose 8​ per cent​ to £695​m, or 1​ per cent​ on a like-for-like basis.

In travel, WH Smith's standout operation, total revenue rose 18​ per cent​ and 3​ per cent​ on a comparable basis. Profit at the arm ​rose 7​ per cent​ to £44​m.

High street revenue fell 1​ per cent​, with like-for-like revenue down 2​ per cent​, but this was the retailer's second-best sales performance in the past decade and was driven by growth in Christmas cards, wrapping paper, diaries, calendars, and art and craft ranges.

​Chief executive Stephen Clarke struck an upbeat tone.

"The group has delivered a strong performance in the first half of the financial year​," he said.​

"The integration of InMotion is progressing well. This acquisition doubles the size of our business outside of the UK, where we are now present in 99 airports and 30 countries.

"While there is uncertainty in the broader economic and political environment, we have made a good start to the second half of the financial year and the increase in the interim dividend by 8​ per cent​ reflects the board's confidence in the outcome for the full year."