Next raises forecast after weather boost

Next has hiked its profit forecasts after enjoying a boost in sales from the recent warm weather.

The retailer reported stronger than expected trading for the last thirteen weeks, particularly in womenswear as shoppers bought new outfits for the summer.

Sales across Next's retail outlets and its Directory catalogue rose by 5.2 per cent between the start of February and the end of April.

Next now expects to post a pre-tax profit of between £535m and £585m, £15m more than it predicted in March.

But the company warned that the rest of 2011 would be tough as consumers rein in tbeir spending.

The company said in a statement: "Despite the strength in recent sales, we remain cautious for the full year given that there has not been a significant change in the underlying economic environment.

"The combined effects of the public sector deficit cuts and continued inflation in essential commodities are all likely to restrain growth in consumer spending generally."

The company also warned that it will increase prices by around eight per cent during the second half of this year as cotton prices surge.