Next buoyed by home shopping

Retailer Next kept its full-year profit forecast on Wednesday, after a fall in third-quarter sales at its high street business was offset by strong growth from its Directory home shopping business.

The firm, which runs over 500 stores in Britain and Ireland as well as the Directory operation, said total sales, excluding VAT sales tax, rose 3.3 per cent, in the three months to Oct. 29.

That compares with analyst expectations in a range of down 0.3 per cent to up three per cent and first half growth of 3.2 per cent.

Sales at its stores were down 3.3 per cent but this was offset by growth of 16.9 per cent at Next Directory.

"Margins and costs remain in line with our expectations and we are maintaining our sales and profit guidance for the full year (to end-Jan. 2012), albeit at this stage we are able to give more precise ranges," the firm said.

It is forecasting full year sales growth of 2.5-4 per cent and pre-tax profits of £550m-585m.

Next also said it remained confident that it will see no further increase in selling prices in the first half of the 2012/13 year.

It added that early indications are this trend will continue into the second half of the year.