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UPDATE 2-WH Smith boss quits after turnaround

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* CEO Kate Swann to leave on June 30

* MD Steve Clarke to take over

* Full-year pretax profit rises 10 pct to 102 mln stg

* Like-for-like sales fall 5 pct; total sales down 2 pct

* Shares fall 3.5 pct

(Adds details, CEO comments, shares)

By Neil Maidment and Karen Rebelo

Oct 11 (Reuters) - WH Smith Chief Executive KateSwann will step down from the books and stationery retailer nextsummer, ending a decade-long tenure in which she helped torevitalise the company's fortunes.

The British group, which operates in more than 1,100primarily UK-based stores, said on Thursday that Steve Clarke,managing director of its High Street division, would succeedSwann on July 1.

WH Smith shares were down 3.5 percent at 1107 GMT, despitethe company also posting a 10 percent rise in full-year pretaxprofit to 102 million pounds ($163.4 million).

Swann is credited for an overhaul of the 220-year-oldbusiness that has seen it swap selling less profitable itemssuch as CDs and DVDs for books and stationery, cut costs andexpand into lucrative airport and railway station locations.

The former Argos managing director, who joined the companyin November 2003, has also initiated share buyback programmesthat have made WH Smith a darling of investors and analysts.

"Kate Swann has done a fantastic job orchestrating theturnaround of WH Smith. This is a blow, though she is handingover to a safe pair of hands in Steve Clark," Seymour Pierceanalyst Kate Calvert said.

Though UK retailers are generally struggling as shoppersrein in spending amid rising unemployment, weak wages growth andgovernment spending cuts, WH Smith has fared better than most.

IMPROVED MARGINS

Swann has improved margins with more profitable products,better sourcing and fewer markdowns. She has also rebalanced thehigh street and travel businesses. The company's mix of productshas also changed towards core categories and its move away fromentertainment products has been a shrewd one on the evidence ofthe difficulties at HMV and Game .

"Getting out of entertainment; nine years ago that was not apopular thing to do, it was a quarter of our sales, but it hasclearly proved to be very helpful," Swann told reporters, addingthat she did not intend to retire when she leaves the company.

In the year to Aug. 31, total like-for-like sales fell 5percent, with a record profit in its travel division and booksales boosted by the Fifty Shades trilogy.

WH Smith, which is expanding abroad through a mixture offranchises, joint ventures and direct leases, also announced 12million pounds of additional cost savings, pushing its target to25 million over the next three years.

Some analysts said that Swann's departure raised questionsover the longevity of the company's cost-saving plans and margingains in a tough high street environment.

"Our experience suggests that great chief executives tend tohave uncanny timing in terms of knowing when to leave," EspiritoSanto analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi said. "We suspect that the marketmay take that view, at least short term."

WH Smith said that it proposed a final dividend of 18.6p pershare, giving a total for the year of 26.9 pence, up 20 percenton last year.

(Editing by Don Sebastian and David Goodman)

((neil.maidment@thomsonreuters.com)(+44)(0)(207 5422292)(Reuters Messaging:neil.maidment.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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