Next raises profit forecasts after sales boost

NEXT has increased its full-year profit forcecast after reporting an unexpected boost in sales.

The fashion retailer’s like-for-like sales grew by 3.2 per cent in the 22 weeks to Christmas Eve.

It has now raised its full-year profit forecast to between £490m and £500m – above the previous estimate of £472m.

In a statement Next said that its post-Christmas sale had “gone well’ but that it was cautious about the outlook for 2010.

Next's sales in home furnishings performed "particularly well".

Excluding online sales, like-for-like sales across more than 500 Next stores were up 1.6 per cent during the 22-week period.

It added: “We do not necessarily expect the year ahead to be as good as the previous six months. We believe Next is well placed to face the challenges of the year ahead.”

The company warned that those challenges could include tax rises, government spending cuts and rising interest rates.

The retailer is planning for lower sales growth at its outlets of between one per cent and minus three per cent this year.

However, it expects its Directory online and telephone business to show sales growth of up to two per cent.