High street giant Next saw a boost in sales in the first quarter of the year it continues to feel the lift of stores reopening after covid lockdowns.
Total sales at the firm jumped 21.3 per cent, as retail sales across UK and Ireland surged 285 per cent on last year’s levels, when the retailer was forced to shutter its stores due to lockdowns.
Online sales, which were boosted last year through lockdowns, slid 11 per cent as shoppers took back to the high street but remained elevated on pre-pandemic levels.
In the first quarter of the year, online sales were 47 per cent higher than the compatible period three years ago.
Bosses have now doubled down on the full year profit guidance set out at the firm’s full year results in March, with central estimate of £850m profits before laid out for the year ahead.
Next has put excess cash to work in the past quarter and snapped up 1.6m shares from shareholders at an average price price of £65.52, totalling £107.5m.
The buyback programme has reduced the number of shares in issue by 1.2 per cent since the firm’s January 2022 year end.
Analysts said the results cooled some nervousness among investors today, after fears the firm may miss its targets.
“What NEXT haven’t said today is more important than what they have,” said Steve Clayton, HL Select fund manager.
“Markets were concerned that the group would be struggling with costs and availability of product, putting margins under pressure, even before customers struggled with the squeeze on their own incomes. Instead, the company have reiterated their guidance from March, suggesting that their cost controls are succeeding.”
Clayton said customers appeared to be accepting price hikes the firm is putting through on the back of soaring inflation, rather than leaving the stores empty-handed.