WH Smith Reports 'Challenging' Christmas

U.K. retail chain WH Smith PLC has revealed total like for like (LFL) sales were down 5 percent over the 20 weeks to Jan. 17, in the wake of Woolworths-owned distributor EUK's collapse before the busy Christmas shopping period (Billboard.biz, Nov. 26).

On the high street, LFL sales decreased by 7 percent in the nine and 20 weeks to Jan. 17. Excluding entertainment, the retailer's LFL sales had a smaller decline of 3 precent for the same periods.

"As anticipated, trading conditions on the high street were challenging over the Christmas period," said group chief executive, Kate Swann in a statement. "However, we continue to successfully deliver our strategy and maintain operational flexibility, increasing gross margins and accelerating our cost reduction plans. Looking ahead, we expect consumer spending in our markets to remain subdued and we have planned accordingly."

WH Smith PLC will release its Interim Results 2009 on April 23.

The collapse of Woolworths affected several major retailers throughout the U.K. -- most notably music retailer Zavvi, which went into administration (the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection) on Christmas Eve.

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