WH Smith hailed its resilience as departing chief executive Kate Swann continued the chain's focus on profitability over sales.
Like-for-like revenues fell 5% in the 20 weeks to January 20, but with close management of margins and costs the company said it still delivered a good profits performance.
It is a formula that has worked well for the company, which operates 618 stores on the high street and another 619 at airports, stations and motorway service areas.
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In October, WH Smith's profits lifted 10% to £102 mil-lion, compared with the £135m loss in 2004 prior to Ms Swann's appointment.
Ms Swann has shifted the company's focus away from CDs and DVDs and heavy discounting towards books and stationery.