Next lifts 2014 profit guidance

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CLOTHING retailer Next’s sales rose 2.9 per cent in the run up to Christmas, mainly due to online and catalogue purchases.

The company’s performance hit the upper end of its predictions, and it said full-year profit would rise by about 11.5 per cent.

The group, which does not discount prices before Christmas, said it expected profit for the year to January 24 to be within £10m on either side of £775m, £5m ahead of the midpoint profit guidance it issued in October.

Next’s Directory Internet and catalogue business was the stand out performer in the run up to Christmas - the 58 days from October 28 to December 24 - posting a 7.5 per cent rise in sales. Sales in its stores rose 0.5 per cent, it said. The company said it went into its post-Christmas sale with significantly more stock than last year after an unusually warm autumn weakened demand for winter ranges, but clearance rates had been in line with its expectations. Next said it had halted its share buy-back programme in October, because the price of the shares were above its limits, and it would instead pay a further special dividend of 50 pence a share.