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WH Smith bucks High Street gloom

Thursday 24 January 2013 5:00

WH Smith has revealed a rise in profits over Christmas, despite falling sales, and now plans to open six new UK stores this year.

The retailer said better buying terms in the Far East, less discounting after Christmas and more profitable stationary products offset a 5% drop in underlying sales in the 20 weeks to January 20.

Strong sales of Christmas bestsellers, led by Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals and Miranda Hart's autobiography, helped the company hold market share in books despite some heavy discounting in December which drove down book sales at the retailer by 6%.

"We were pleased with our performance in a tough environment," said chief executive Kate Swann. "We are in a fortunate position that we know we have got a good balance sheet and are very cash generative so can keep growing."