Fashion retailer Next lifts profit expectations
NEXT, Britain's second-biggest clothing retailer, raised its full-year profit expectations after sales growth picked up a little in its second quarter, partly reflecting favourable weather.
The group, which trades from over 500 stores in Britain and Ireland and about 200 stores overseas, as well as through its Directory internet and catalogue business, said on Tuesday total sales rose 2.3pc in the 26 weeks to July 27.
That was just above first-quarter growth of 2.2pc and consistent with previous sales guidance for the full 2013-14 financial year of growth of 1-4pc.
Next adjusted that guidance to growth of 1.5-3.5pc.
It also raised and narrowed guidance for pretax profit to £635-£675m from £615-£665m
previously, and for growth in earnings per share to 8-15pc from 4-13pc previously.
Many retailers are still finding the going tough as consumers, whose spending generates about two-thirds of Britain's gross domestic product, fret over job security and a squeeze on incomes. However, recent data has been encouraging, showing signs of economic recovery.
Next has generally been able to defy the downturn, helped by its strong online offer, a constant stream of new store openings and diversification into homewares and overseas markets.
It said it expected little change to the consumer environment but noted shoppers were becoming more spontaneous in their purchasing habits, with weekly sales more affected by short-term events such as a change in the weather, the timing of public holidays and school holidays.
Next said sales in its stores were down 0.9pc in the period, while Directory sales were up 8.3pc.
Next shares are up 51pc over the last year.