The UK’s WH Smith reported results for the six months ending February 28, with high street sales of 503 million pounds down 4 percent, both in absolute terms and on a comp-store basis. Books as a category were also down 4 percent compared to a year ago. The company says “the books market was soft during the key Christmas period, but performance varied by sub-category with the poor publishing schedule in non-fiction acting as a key driver behind the market decline.” Nonetheless, they insist that “we continue to implement our strategy to build on our authority as a popular book specialist.” Among the changes, they continue to give more space to children’s books, and their travel division has added new categories in their bookstores, including focused business titles. Operating profit of 47 million pounds for the high street segment was flat.
Courier’s publishing units had sales of $11.7 million for their fiscal second quarter, down 3 percent overall, with Dover declining 4 percent in the period and Creative Homeowner down 14 percent. But the segment was just barely profitable, compared to a loss a year ago. Ceo James Conway says “Dover was hurt by reduced ordering among major retailers following the weak holiday season, but REA rose above it with a combination of new and re-branded products targeted to key testing markets. Equally important, there were encouraging signs at Creative Homeowner, with direct home plan sales and sales to non-home centers both rising. In fact, both Dover and Creative Homeowner had good growth in direct-to- consumer sales.”
Overall Courier had $58.9 million in sales, down “marginally” from $59.4 million a year ago.