Can good design save WH Smith?

Incredibly WH Smith, has eeked out more savings in 2011, and had solid trading to increase profits yet again to £109million, and increased the dividend to 22.5p a share. The shares are trading around 550p, which is at the top of their trading range.

However, with specialist internet news and websites, the rise of the Kindle and eBooks can their newly designed Kobo with it's lovely ads on the tube and elsewhere, save the book selling side of the business? With the forces of Amazon and others, Kate Swann will have her work cut out, if WH Smiths is not going to go the way of Woolworths in the future.

Interestingly Smiths have already reduced their presence in entertainment sales of DVDs (down 55 per cent), as part of their strategy. Having said that WH Smith's cash flow is very strong and book sales were only down 4 per cent, news and impulse sales down just 3 per cent, and their (now closed to new members) defined benefit pension scheme deficit is £113million. So for the moment, things are looking positive.