April 12 (Reuters) - British books, newspaper and stationery retailer WH Smith Plc posted a 3.75 percent rise in first-half pretax profit as its travel business continued to outshine lagging high street or town centre retail operations.
WH Smith, which has more than 1,300 stores mostly in the UK, said profit before tax for the six months to Feb. 28 rose to 83 million pounds ($104 million) from 80 million last year.
Trading profit at its travel business, made up of outlets at airports, railway stations, motorway services, hospitals and workplaces, rose 11 percent to 39 million pounds, helped by an improvement in passenger numbers.
The group, which will celebrate its 225th anniversary this year, said sales fell 4 percent at its high street business, citing tough comparatives from last year, when sales were boosted by the “colour therapy” trend for adult colouring-in books.
Trading profit at its high street business remained flat at 53 million pounds. ($1 = 0.8009 pounds) (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by David Holmes)