Next sees snow knock £22m off Xmas sales

NEXT posted a slightly-worse-than-expected fall in underlying store sales at Christmas, blaming the hit to trade from snow in December.

It said that even though it lost an estimated £22m of sales because of the snow it was still in line to hit forecasts.

The group, which runs over 500 stores in Britain and Ireland, said yesterday that sales at shops open at least a year fell 6.1 per cent in the period from 1 August to 24 December – the bulk of its second half.

However, sales at Next’s Directory home shopping business climbed 8.7 per cent.

Next guided that full-year pre-tax profit will be in the range of £540m-£555m, in line with current market expectations.

The retailer repeated an earlier warning that its prices were likely to rise by about eight per cent this year, due to the VAT rise and higher cotton costs. Next said: “We estimate that we lost £22m of full price sales as a result of the snow – representing 2.2 per cent of the season’s total sales.”

•Also, Games Workshop, which make the Warhammer models series, issued a profit warning yesterday.

In the half year to the end of November, sales were down four per cent, with the company unlikely to hit City forecasts. But the company said margins and costs are “under control”. The stock closed down 14 per cent at 366p.