Next hikes profit target a fourth time

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Next posted its fourth upgrade in full-year profits since May and forecast improved sales in the second half, including the crucial Christmas trading period yesterday.

The fashion retailer delivered like-for-like retail sales down by just 1.3 per cent in the quarter to 31 October, following a "noticeable pick-up in sales" last month, as it came up against weak sales around the same time in 2008.

Simon Wolfson, the chief executive of Next, said: "What we are seeing at the moment is not growth in consumer spending, it's stabilisation in consumer spending." Next said it was now expecting like-for-like retail to be down by between zero and 3 per cent in the second half, following its previous guidance of a fall of 3.5 to 6.5 per cent.

Next pointed out that if it included multi-channel sales, its retail like-for-like figures would improve by 2.2 per cent, meaning they would have been actually up by 0.9 per cent in Q3. This was a thinly veiled dig at Marks & Spencer, which counts online sales in its general merchandise figures.

The retailer said it expected its full-year profits to come in around £472m, which is £30m higher than previous consensus forecasts.