UPDATE 1-WH Smith says CEO Kate Swann to step down, shares fall
* Managing director Steve Clarke to take over on July 1
* Full-year pretax profit rises 10 pct to 102 mln stg
* Full-year sales fall 2 pct
(Adds share movement and comments from Swann, analyst)
Oct 11 (Reuters) - WH Smith Plc said Chief Executive Kate Swann will step down on June 30, after running the books and stationery retailer for a decade, sending its shares down as much as 7 percent.
Steve Clarke, managing director of the company's High Street division, will take over from Swann on July 1.
"She is highly regarded, so if she's leaving people say she has done very well, that could be the end of it," Panmure Gordon analyst Philip Dorgan told Reuters.
Swann is credited for turning around the business, streamlining operations and initiating buyback programmes that have made WH Smith a darling of investors and analysts.
"I certainly don't intend to retire," she replied to a question on her future plans during a conference call with reporters.
Under Swann's leadership the company has moved away from selling less profitable items such as CDs and DVDs to focus on books and stationery.
"Getting out of entertainment, nine years ago that was not a popular thing to do, it was a quarter of our sales, but it has clearly proved to be very helpful," Swann said.
Swann, who began her career at Tesco Plc as a marketing executive, was appointed to WH Smith's board in November 2003.
The company also said September-August pretax profit rose 10 percent to 102 million pounds ($163.41 million). Sales fell 2 percent with like-for-like sales down 5 percent.
WH Smith's shares were down more than 4 percent at 623.5 pence at 0800 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. They have risen 21 percent since the start of the year.
($1 = 0.6242 British pounds)
(Reporting by Karen Rebelo in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)
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