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Online helps Next to boost sales

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Strong growth in online sales helped multichannel fashion retailer Next overcome a dip in the sales it made in store in the first half of the year.

In a trading statement, the company this week reported growth in total sales, thanks to a 15.1% rise in directory sales in the first half of its year. Directory sales are made both online and through mail-order. The company pointed out, however, that Next directory sales were flattered in comparison with last year because more sale stock was allocated to the directory. Full-price directory sales were up by a still-healthy 13.3%.

But sales in Next shops fell by 1.7% at the same time. The overall effect was that total Next brand sales rose by 3.2% in the first half of the year, excluding VAT.

As a result, said the company, whose chief executive Lord Wolfson is pictured, it still expected to deliver profits in line with previous expectations. Full-year profits are likely to be between £566m to £616m.

However the company also warned its costs were likely to continue to rise by 8% in the second half of the year, though it predicted 2012 would see less marked rises in input costs.

“The combination of a sharp reduction in cotton prices, an easing of manufacturing capacity constraints in the Far East and the annualising of this year's VAT increase all mean that selling prices are unlikely to rise further for Spring 2012,” it said.

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