October 12, 2017 / 7:28 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-WH Smith's profits boosted by sales growth at travel stores

(Adds details, shares)

Oct 12 (Reuters) - British books and stationery retailer WH Smith Plc reported a 6.9 percent rise in annual pretax profits to 140 million pounds ($185.57 million) on Thursday, with growth led by outlets at airports and other travel sites.

WH Smith said trading profit at its more than 750 outlets at travel hubs, including railway stations and motorway service areas, rose 10.3 percent to 96 million pounds and now makes up over 60 percent of its trading profit.

Trading profit at its high street outlets was flat at 62 million pounds.

The final dividend was increased by 10 percent to take the year’s total payout to 48.2p a share.

However, shares in the company were down 2.6 percent at 2016 pence at 0725 GMT, having risen more than 45 percent so far this year.

The company’s travel business has been expanding internationally. It announced the win of six units in both Rome airports, adding another country to its mainland European presence of Alicante and Dusseldorf.

At home travel business sales over the summer also benefited from a sharp rise in the number of foreigners visiting Britain.

Official data showed that tourist numbers hit a record in July adding to evidence that the weak pound has made tourism a big beneficiary of last year’s Brexit vote. ($1 = 0.7544 pounds) (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely, Greg Mahlich)

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