Retailer WH Smith has seen half-year profits fall 21 per cent after being stung by costs linked to its acquisition of InMotion and a restructuring programme.

The high street chain saw pre-tax profit drop from £82 million to £65m in the six months to February 28.

WH Smith booked £9m in costs linked to the deal to buy InMotion, a US travel accessories retailer, and another £7m linked to a restructuring.

With costs stripped out, pre-tax profit was down 1% to £81m.

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

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High street revenue fell 1%, with like-for-like revenue down 2%, 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 Stephen Clarke said: "The group has delivered a strong performance in the first half of the financial year."

Business leaders have voiced fears that the extension to Brexit would create even more uncertainty for companies.

The extension to Article 50 agreed by Prime Minister Theresa May with fellow EU leaders removed the threat of a no-deal Brexit on Friday, but did not remove it as a potential outcome completely.

The Federation of Small Businesses said its members were being "driven to despair".

Chairman Mike Cherry said: "Frankly, they are fed up of being made to pay the price for the political crisis that has engulfed Westminster.
"We have seen some cross-party engagement in recent days to try and end the stalemate."

An Israeli spacecraft will become the first private craft to land on the moon when it touches down on the lunar surface later on Thursday.

In a first for commercial space travel, non-profit organisation SpaceIL is hoping to see its Beresheet craft successfully complete a landing on the moon, and in the process make Israel only the fourth country to manage the feat.

The lander - whose name is Hebrew for Genesis - took off almost two months ago from Cape Canaveral in Florida as part of a "ride share" with Elon Musk's SpaceX, as the Beresheet mission could not afford its own rocket.