Next rejects recession talk as sales leap

 

Next showed rivals a clean pair of heels yesterday with a sales update that sent the shares soaring and had chief executive Simon Wolfson insisting that figures suggesting the nation is back in recession are plain wrong.

Click HERE to view graphic

Lord Wolfson, a Conservative supporter who has been a strong backer of the Government's austerity drive, was able to defy talk that traditional retailers are in crisis and that the Olympics has only exacerbated the situation.

Sales in the half-year to the end of July were up 4.5 per cent, a rise few rivals can beat.

That was better than most City analysts had dared to expect and the shares were the biggest riser in the FTSE 100, up 208p to 3,427p. Next's market value recently passed that of Marks & Spencer, an event that increased pressure on M&S boss Marc Bolland, who critics say is failing to deliver the overhaul needed at the retailer.

Next was yesterday valued at £5.6bn by the stock market, compared with M&S's £5.4bn. Clive Black at Shore Capital said the sales figures show that Next is "a class act" and that the figures represent a "challenging read-across for Mr Bolland & Co".

Mr Black thinks Next's annual profit could now hit £620m, £10m higher than he previously thought.

Lord Wolfson was sanguine about his own figures, noting that most of the sales growth comes from home shopping rather than in-store.

Of the 4.5 per cent rise, 0.2 per cent is in-store, 2.5 per cent comes from new space and 13.3 per cent from the Directory arm. "The two things that are helping are new space and the growth of online," he said.

"Retail sales are flat and underlying same-store sales are still moving backwards. Consumers are still tightening their belts."

But he had words of comfort for the Chancellor, George Osborne, adding his voice to those that think recent figures showing a 0.7 per cent fall in second-quarter GDP cannot be right.

"I don't for one second believe those numbers," he said.

"It is not possible for an economy to fall by 0.7 per cent while employment figures rise. My sense is that the economy is flatlining."

Asked when a true turnaround would begin, he replied: "I don't know, but not this year."

Next also underscored its commitment to its £200m share buyback programme, on which it has spent £112m so far.

James McGregor of shopping consultants Retail Remedy said: "In an extremely challenging retail environment, Next has done the right thing by focusing myopically on its core strengths and core customers, many of whom have grown up with the brand."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

Business Analyst - Banking - Scotland - £380-£480

£380 - £480 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - Edinburgh - £380 - ...

Risk Analyst - (Multi Asset class) £70k - £80k

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: My client is a leading financial ...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn