Clothing and furniture retailer Next has reported today that trading for its third quarter was largely in-line with expectations due to an increase in directory sales of 16.9 per cent year-on-year.
The online and mail order segment of the business offset declining high street retail sales, which fell 3.3 per cent in the three-month period ending October 29th 2011, to help total brand sales rise 3.3 per cent in the quarter.
A statement from Next read: “This figure is in line with our performance in the first half; so sales for the year-to-date are up 3.2 per cent, at the mid-point of the full year +2.0 per cent to +4.5 per cent sales guidance issued in September.
“The overall growth pattern for the Next Brand is unchanged, with further improvements in Next Directory (our online business) and the addition of profitable new space more than compensating for slightly weaker underlying retail sales.”
A continuing shift of emphasis to online has helped keep the retailer profitable at a time when many of its high street competitors have been struggling, and the group now expects profit before tax to grow between 1.2 per cent and 7.7 per cent, and total over £550 million for its full year.
Total sales growth for the full 12-month period to January 2012 is now expected to increase between 2.5 per cent and four per cent compared to the previous year and the jump in earnings per share should be between 8.3 per cent and 15.2 per cent.
Price increases have been a feature at the retailer during 2011 as the retailer looked to offset the impact of soaring global commodity prices but it now expects to keep ticket prices steady moving into 2012 with national inflation likely to have hit its peak.
It’s statement continued: “We remain confident that we will see no further increase in selling prices in the first half of the year. Early indications are that this trend will continue into the second half of 2012.”