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Online sales growth helps keep Next ahead

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A ‘strong performance’ from Next’s online division helped maintain overall sales growth between August and October.

In an interim management statement published today the company said sales growth of 7.9% in the Next Directory online divison had compensated for a 3.3% fall in like-for-like store sales. Overall, Next brand sales rose by 2.2% during the quarter.

Looking ahead, the company said it expected to see online sales grow by between 4% and 8% over the full second half of the year, while store sales were expected to fall by between 4.5% and 1.5% fall. Total Next brand sales are expected to see growth of up to 3%.

Second-half profits are expected to be between £535m and £560m. At the same time, however, the company warned that retail prices were likely to go up by as much as 8% in the first quarter of the 2011 financial year thanks to “what seems to be a speculative bubble in cotton prices”. How long that lasts will also inform prices in the second quarter of the year, it said.

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