Next sales rise despite Directory slowdown


High street fashion retailer Next has today reported a 2.7 per cent rise in sales in its third quarter, driven by strong sales towards the end of the period.

In late September and early October, the retailer saw a sales surge which boosted results following “the unusually quiet start to Autumn”, according to the company.

Store sales rose 1.1 per cent while Directory sales slowed considerably to 5.6 per cent, ending six consecutive quarters of growth.

A statement from the group said: “The difference in the performance of Retail and Directory has narrowed.

“We believe this is mainly because Directory has now annualised the significant benefits of the delivery improvements we made at the start of last year.

“Overall sales performance remains volatile, making it hard to draw conclusions from any one short period of time. We expect total sales in the final quarter to increase broadly in line with sales for the year-to-date.

“Accordingly we are narrowing our full year sales guidance to a range of +3.0 per cent to +4.5 per cent.”

Narrower sales guidance has allowed the retailer to more precisely forecast its profit range and it now expects group pre-tax profit to be in the range of £590 million to £620 million, a growth of 3.5 per cent to 8.7 per cent as it had previously predicted the figure to fall between £575 million and £620 million.

James McGregor, Director of retail consultants Retail Remedy, praised the results despite a “brief pang of disappointment” over declining Directory sales.

“While all about are losing their heads, Next has spectacularly kept theirs,” he commented.

“The company has no magic formula, just a tried and tested multiplatform approach.

“It perfected its holy trinity of online, directory and physical stores long before its rivals had even begun to look beyond physical stores.

“It understands its customers well, listens to them and reacts to their needs.The result is a loyal and trusting customer base.

“This is not alchemy. Artistry perhaps. But above all, Next‘s success is the fruit of a clearly defined and well executed proposition.”