Next profits up but remains cautious

Next said it is remaining "very cautious" despite building its advantage over rival Marks & Spencer
Next said it is remaining "very cautious" despite building its advantage over rival Marks & Spencer
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​Fashion chain​ Next ​reported a 12.5 per​ ​cent rise in​ annual​ profit, ​boosted by sales growth at both its stores and Directory internet business, ​al​though it took a cautious view of the outlook for the 2015-16 year.

The firm, which trades from over 500 stores in Britain and Ireland and almost 200 stores overseas, said that although Britain’s consumer economy look​s​ benign, it ​remains very cautious in its sales budgets.

“Whilst we are happy with most of our current product ranges, we recognise that some collections are not as strong as they were at this point last year,” said the firm.

It said that during the spring and summer seasons it also faces very tough comparative numbers from last year, when sales were assisted by unusually warm weather.

Next noted there is potential upside in the second half as the comparative performance last year weakens, particularly in the third quarter.

The firm forecast sales growth of 1.5-5.5 per​ ​cent in 2015-16 with the first half expected to be up 0-3 per​ ​cent, and the second half up 3.5-7.5 per​ ​cent.

​It ​forecast a pre​-​tax profit of ​£​785​m to​ £835​m for the current year, which represents growth of 0.4-6.7 per​ ​cent.

Next made an underlying profit before tax of ​£​782​m in the year to Jan​uary​ 2015.