Next posts worse-than-expected first quarter results

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Fashion retailer Next has had a worse-than-expected first quarter, with high street sales falling by 8.1 per cent.

Although Next’s directory arm performed better than its high street shops, with sales up 3.3 per cent, the retailer’s overall sales was still down by three per cent for the 13 week period ending April 29.

The results prompted the chain – often regarded as a bellwether for fashion retail – to narrow its outlook once again, with full-year profits now expected to fall by between 13.9 per cent and 6.4 per cent.

Next chief executive Lord Simon Wolfson said the retailer was still recovering from last year’s mistakes on its product ranges, while consumer confidence has also been impacted by rising prices.

“There’s general pressure on the high street but the omissions in our own range are hitting our sales over and above any downturn,” he said.

Wolfson added he was expecting “more of the same” in the group’s second quarter.

“The clothing sector is not an easy sector and we recognised in our full-year results announcement in March that some of our ranges weren’t where we wanted them to be,” he said.

In March, Next posted its first fall in annual profits for eight years, reporting a 3.8 per cent fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £790.2 million for the year to January.

This resulted in Wolfson’s salary to be cut by more than 55 per cent to £1.8 million.

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