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Sales up at Next, thanks to online growth

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Sales are up at Next, where fast online growth has compensated for falling revenues on the high street.

The multichannel fashion retailer said in an interim management statement published today that in the three months to October 29, total sales, excluding VAT, rose by 3.3%. That’s in line with its performance in the first half of the year. Investors reacted positively and Next’s share price rose in early trading by 4.93% to £26.83.

The Next Directory, its online arm, enjoyed sales growth of 16.9% in the period, taking the year to date figure to 15.8%. But takings at its shops were down, pushing sales at Next Retail, the bricks and mortar arm, down by 3.3%. In the year to date, high street sales have fallen by 2.3%.

In the light of today’s figures, Next, led by chief executive Lord Wolfson (pictured) now predicts that its sales will grow by between 2.5% and 4% in its full year, ending in January. It expects profits before tax to come in at between £550m and £585m, up between 1.2% and 7.7% on last year.

It also predicted that prices, pushed up earlier this year by higher cotton prices, would not rise in the first half of 2012. It added that at this early stage it expected that to continue in the second half of the year.

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