Next profits more than halved but online sales boom as stores forced to close

Retailer forecasts rebound this year as shoppers satisfy pent-up demand to spend

Ben Chapman
Thursday 01 April 2021 15:44 BST

Profits at high street fashion retailer Next more than halved last year after its stores were forced to close for extended periods.

Despite the profit fall, Next's shares jumped more than 4 per cent after the company raised its forecast for this year.

Next expects to post £700m profit for the current financial year, up from its previous target of £670m.

It pointed to soaring online sales in the past eight weeks, which were 60 per cent higher than in the same period a year ago.

Next issued an optimistic assessment of consumer spending, saying that in the short term it will be "healthier than many presume".

Next boss Lord Wolfson said: "It seems likely that a combination of pent-up demand along with a healthy overall increase in personal savings will serve to keep the consumer economy moving forward.”

For the year ending in January, pre-tax profits slid by 54 per cent to £342m compared with the same period last year.

In a statement, Next chairman Michael Roney said: "I believe that in difficult times there is a clearer separation between the stronger corporate performers and the weaker ones.

"This result is due to the formation of a good management team and the establishment of robust processes during less volatile periods.

"Our continued investment over many years in our people and our systems has shown resilient results in the past year."

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