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Next reports 12.1% rise in online sales

Next Bristol Cribbs Causeway

Next saw its annual underlying pre-tax profit rise by 12.5% to £782.2 million as sales grew both at its high street stores and its Next directory business.

In the year to January 2015, revenue climbed to nearly £4 billion.

While sales at the retailer’s stores edged up 4.8%, online and catalogue sales rose by 12.1%.

However, Next said it was a year of two very different halves with sales in the first half rising by 11%, whilst the second half was “relatively disappointing” with sales up by 5%.

Trading space increased by 330,000 square feet to 7.4 million square feet in the period. Store numbers remained broadly the same, with the increase from new stores being offset by the closure of smaller, less profitable stores.

Looking ahead, the company said it remained cautious in its sales budgets despite the consumer economy looking benign. It added: “Whilst we are happy with most of our current product ranges, we recognise that some collections are not as strong as they were at this point last year. In addition, during the Spring and Summer seasons, we face very tough comparative numbers from last year, when sales were assisted by unusually warm weather.“

Next has set a wide target for full price sales growth of between 1.5% and 5.5% for the current financial year, with the first half expected to be up 0% to 3%, and the second half up 3.5% to 7.5%. It has forecast a pre-tax profit of £785 million to £835 million.

Next chairman John Barton said: “The continued success of Next is built on the hard work and dedication of our management team and all the people who work for Next. I would like to thank them all for their contribution during the year.

“2015 will bring new challenges and opportunities. Our strategy will remain the same, focused on our products, our profitability and returning cash to our shareholders.”

Source : The Retail Bulletin

20 March 2015

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