Next CEO says retail to pick up next year

Kasmira Jefford
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NEXT chief executive Lord Wolfson said he expects to see retailing pickup from the second quarter of next year, after the fashion chain reported it remained on track to achieve full­-year forecast profits.

Shares rose to an all-time high yesterday after the FTSE 100 firm said total sales, excluding VAT, were up 3.3 per cent in the third quarter, driven by a surge in sales across its home shopping business, Next Directory.

The directory business saw sales rise by 16.9 per cent, offsetting a 3.3 per cent decline in revenues from its stores as more consumers shift to online shopping.

Next boss Wolfson, who raised prices by seven per cent this year after a “perfect storm” of rising cotton prices and higher VAT, said it was unlikely that prices would increase next year.

“Things will get a little bit easier for the consumer from the second quarter next year -- because I think what is holding consumer spending back most at the moment is inflation,” he told City A.M..

“Inflation should fall out of the system from February onwards next year.”

The group narrowed its profits guidance slightly for the year to January 2012, predicting pre-tax profits of between £550m and £585m.

Share closed up 6.49 per cent to 2,723p as analysts said the forecast “was better than feared” amid the surrounding retail gloom.