Wednesday 21 November 2018

Next shares rise after sunny spell boosts sales

Unusually warm weather in recent weeks will add around £12 million to its full year profit.

Warm weather has boosted Next's profits (PA)
Warm weather has boosted Next's profits (PA)

By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor

Shares in Next jumped as the retailer upgraded its annual profits forecast following a sales boost from the recent heatwave.

The group said that unusually warm weather in recent weeks, which resulted in a “sales over-performance”, will add around £12 million to its full year profit.

In a first quarter trading update, Next saw full price sales rise 6% in the 14 weeks to May 7, with online revenue growing 18%.

Shares rocketed over 6% following the update.

“Sales in the first quarter were better than we expected and around £40 million ahead of our internal forecast, boosted in recent weeks by unusually warm weather.

“This sales over-performance adds around £12 million to our full year profit and we are therefore increasing our central guidance for group profit accordingly.”

It means that Next is pencilling in full year profits of £717 million, up 2.2% from £705 million.

However, the figures also show that sales at its high street stores were down 4.8%, reflecting the wider malaise in the retail sector.

Richard Lim, of retail economics, said while the results are better than expected, they should be put in the context of a “soft benchmark” from the previous year.

“The story of continuous structural challenges underlies the narrative for these results.

“In-store sales continued to spiral downwards indicating the relentless shift towards online shopping.

“This reflects the real challenge for many high street retailers who are oversupplied with physical space while consumers increasingly spend both their time and money away from traditional high streets.”

The retail sector has been hammered by rising costs and falling consumer confidence, which has contributed to hundreds of store closures this year.

The overall results will come as welcome relief to Next boss Lord Simon Wolfson, who in March described 2017 as the toughest year in more than two decades as the retail giant posted a second consecutive fall in annual profits.

At the time, Next pointed to “product ranging errors and omissions” as contributing to the poor showing, a result of the firm failing to provide customers with key items, as well as the shift away from consumer spending on clothing.

Press Association

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