Simon Marinker, managing director of WH Smith’s travel business division, which typically generates more than half of the group’s profits, is to retire at the end of 2011 after 34 years with the retailer, the company said.

The announcement was made as part of a trading update in which WH Smith said it expected results for the full year to August 31 to be in line with expectations.

The travel retail business continues its good performance and is making further progress in winning new business in overseas markets, the retailer said.

WH Smith has been opening several new branches overseas, adding seven in the 18 weeks to July 2. It now has 47 of these sites, including stores in Australia and Kuwait, and is expected to open more.

The high street retail business continued to deliver a “solid performance” due to a focus on gross margin gains and tight cost controls, it said.

Both businesses remain highly cash generative, the company added.

WH Smith praised Mr Marinker for providing “years of outstanding service” and said he would remain involved with the business as a consultant.

Responsibility for the travel retail side of the business would be handed to Simon Smith, who is chief operating officer of the division, the company said. He will report directly to Kate Swann, group chief executive.

WH Smith will present its full-year preliminary results on October 13.

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