Next’s online sales help offset weaker trading on high street
NEXT said yesterday that customers flocking to buy clothes through its online Directory business helped offset a fall in first quarter sales at its high street stores.
Total Next sales rose 1.4 per cent in the three months to 28 April, the high street chain said.
While retail sales across its 536 fashion and homewares stores fell 3.9 per cent, its online and catalogue business Next Directory made up the difference delivering growth of 11.8 per cent.
The group, the UK’s second-largest clothing retailer, said second quarter sales would be up against less demanding comparatives compared with the first quarter of last year when sales rose 5.2 per cent on the back of an exceptionally warm Easter and the Royal Wedding.
Chief executive Simon Wolfson maintained his forecast for the group and said first-half profit should be ahead of last year.
It is forecasting profits of £560m to £610m for the year to January 2013 if sales increase by between one per cent to four per cent. Last year’s pre-tax profits were £570m.
Shares closed up 2.6 per cent to 2,971p yesterday.