CLOTHING retailer Next reported a 19.3pc rise in first-half profit, with growth at both its stores and home shopping business.
The group, which trades from over 500 stores in Britain and Ireland, about 200 stores overseas, and through its Directory internet and catalogue business, said pretax profits were £324.2m in the six months to July, up from £271.8m in the same period last year.
Next is outperforming rivals, such as Marks & Spencer , because of a strong online offer, a constant stream of new store openings and diversification into new product areas, such as homewares, as well as new overseas markets.
The group said on Thursday that its strong performance had in some part been down to external factors, such as the improving economy, low interest rates and availability of credit, which may be less favourable next year.
Next reiterated the guidance it issued in July, when it raised its outlook for annual sales and profit for the second time in three months, forecasting 2014-15 sales growth of 7-10pc and a pretax profit of £775-815m, up 11-17pc.
The retailer also provided more specific guidance about the sales target, predicting third-quarter growth of 10pc and fourth-quarter growth of 4pc, due to the tough comparatives it expects.