Next profit ​rises on strong online growth

Emma Willis latest clothing collection exclusively at Next
Emma Willis latest clothing collection exclusively at Next
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​Retailer Next has reported a 2.7​ per cent​ rise in ​​pre-tax profits as online sales growth continued to offset high street woes.

​The fashion chain reported a 4.9​ per cent​ fall in like-for-like sales across its high street shops, but online sales jumped 12.6​ per cent​.​ The chain said ​pre-tax profits​ ​​rose​ ​to £319.6​m ​in​ the six months to ​the end of ​July​.

Next said the group remain​s​ on track for a 0.3​ per cent​ rise in profits over the full year and overall sales growth of 3.6​ per cent​.

Next chief executive Lord Wolfson - an outspoken Brexiteer - reiterated recent comments that he expects to be able to cut prices by around 2​ per cent​ in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

He said the Government's new temporary tariff regime would reduce its import duty costs by about £25​m as "savings from lower worldwide tariffs would significantly outweigh the additional cost of new tariffs on EU goods".

​He said the biggest risk remained the potential for gridlock at ports and urged the Government to publish measures it plans to keep the flow of UK imports and exports moving in a no-deal outcome.

Next, which has 499 stores, revealed the toll taken on its high street operation, with profit from bricks and mortar outlets down 23.5​ per cent​.

Lord Wolfson said: "The weight of rent, rates and service charge costs remain stubbornly fixed in the stores where the leases have yet to be re-negotiated.

"As a result, we continued to see significant margin erosion as retail sales fall."