Next's share price jumped 1.4 per cent this morning, after raising its profit guidance for the full year following better than expected sales in the first half of this year.
The high street chain is really showing Marks & Spencer how to do it. While its high street rival is struggling to get its clothing division back in growth (which it has managed one quarter out of 15), Next is continuing to storm away.
Total sales were up 3.5 per cent, driven by 7.5 per cent growth within its Directory division – which includes its online arm. Next Retail sales were up 0.8 per cent for the 26 weeks to 25 July.
Total stock for the end of season sale was up 4.8 per cent on last year. The fashion giant said clearance rates were lower than the previous year, but in line with expectations.
As a result Next is upping its guidance for full year sales growth to betweeen 3.5 per cent and six per cent up on last year – previously it had forecast growth of between 1.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent.
Group pre-tax profits have also been given a lift, and are now expected to come in between £805m and £845m, up from £785m to £835m previously predicted. Dividend yield remains the same – 2.1 per cent for ordinary shareholders and 3.3 per cent for special.
If the profit figures are on the money, Next will have cemented its lead against Marc Bolland's chain M&S, which in May revealed full year pre-tax profits of £661m.