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Business News

Hopes that chilly weather has warmed Next

The fashion and homewares retailer Next will reveal this week if its performance bounced back at the end of its third-quarter after poor sales in August and early September.

Last month, the group's chief executive, Lord Wolfson partly blamed the Olympics and the "unusually warm" weather for fewer people visiting his stores and for weaker online growth.

But the City will be hoping the 536-store chain has returned to form, boosted by shoppers seeking warm clothes in the recent cold snap. Following the UK economy emerging from double-dip recession in the third quarter, the comments of Wolfson, a Tory peer, will also be scrutinised for signs that consumer spending has turned a corner ahead of the crucial Christmas trading period.

However, in September, Wolfson said: "If the economy had a weather forecast the outlook would be overcast – patchy rain for the foreseeable future." At the time, it was suggesting pre-tax profits of between £575m and £620m over the year.

While Next's store sales were flat in the first half, its catalogue and online business continued to power ahead. The FTSE 100 group grew pre-tax profit by 10.2 per cent to £251.3m over the six months to July 28.