Next defies retail gloom with sales rise

City A.M. Reporter
Next, Britain's second-biggest clothing retailer, beat its target for first-half sales growth, helped by a particularly robust performance from its Directory home shopping business as the wet summer weather encouraged shoppers to go online.

The firm, which trades from over 500 stores in the UK and Ireland, nearly 200 stores in over 30 countries overseas, and the Next Directory online and catalogue business, also said today it was modestly increasing and narrowing its sales and profit target ranges for the 2012-13 year.

Next said its total sales rose 4.5 per cent, excluding VAT sales tax, in the six months to 28 July. That compares with a company objective of an increase of 1-4 percent and a rise of 1.4 per cent in its first quarter.

First half retail sales rose 0.2 per cent versus guidance of flat to down 3 per cent, while Directory sales increased 13.3 per cent compared with guidance of up 9-12 percent.

Next, the official clothing and homeware supplier to the London 2012 Olympic Games, said it now anticipated total sales growth in 2012-13 of 2-4.5 per cent and group profit before tax of £575m-£620m up from a previous expectation of £560m-£610m.

After a £200m share buy back it expects full year EPS to grow by 6 per cent more than the growth in pretax profit.