Next to offset high street gloom with Directory boom

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Boxing Day Shoppers Hit The Sales
Next rarely discounts, saving its savings for Boxing Day (Source: Getty)

Next's resurgent catalogue has kept the retailer growing during a tough few months on the high street, the FTSE 100 firm is set to announce this week.

The clothing and homeware group is expected to unveil a 10 per cent rise in Directory sales for the latest quarter on Wednesday, helping produce a 1.8 per cent rise in overall sales despite a 5.3 per cent decline on the high street, according to HSBC analysts.

After a profit warning in January, the firm’s half-year results last month struck a more optimistic tone, telling investors the prospects were “somewhat less challenging” than six months ago as the autumn range made a strong start and the Directory gained ground after a revamp.

Read more: What's Next? Woes for fashion retailer Next set to continue with sales drop

A strong recent performance from Next would lessen pressure on the chain to join the Black Friday sales next month, having sat out the wave of discounts in previous years. Chief executive Lord Wolfson once described the pre-Christmas American import as “pointless”.

The update will be watched closely for signs of growing malaise on the high street. A CBI survey last week gave a glimpse of a slowdown, with its poll suggesting retail sales fell at the fastest pace since 2009 last month as inflation pressures increased.

Shares in Next lurk far below the peak of £80 they reached in 2015. The stock is almost unmoved from its value a year ago, putting Next in the middle of the high street fashion pack, and closed last week at £48.88.

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