Next profits in 18pc surge

NEXT saw profits jump by 18 per cent last year as it reacted more quickly to changes in fashion.

Pre-tax profits rose to £505.3m with sales totalling £3,406m.

The company said spending drop on the high street in the recession had not been as bad as feared.

Next, which runs over 500 shops in the UK and Ireland as well as a home shopping business, said said it had made sure its shelves were stocked with new fashions more quickly, while its Home stores had been performing well.

The company has cut net debt to £400m through a round of cost cutting.

Chairman John Barton said: "It was an extraordinary year. At the beginning of the year we faced an unstable economy, falling sales and sterling weakness against both the US dollar and the euro, our main purchasing currencies.

"In the event the consumer economy has been relatively stable."