Next catalogue boost offsets high street slump

Strong catalogue and internet sales at retailer Next has offset a slump in sales at its high street stores, according to a trading statement from the clothing retailer.

The combined sales for Next Retail and Next Directory from the end of July to Christmas Eve were up 2.8% compared to the same period last year. Next Directory, which accounted for more than a fifth of turnover for same period last year, saw sales jump 9.3%, compensating for a 6.9% drop in like-for-like sales on the high street.

Retail sales, including those at new stores, were up 0.8% in the period overall. The company has increased operating profit by 5.1% to 7.2%, leading to a pre-tax profit for the year to January of between £463m and £473m – slightly ahead of analyst expectations.

The retailer says that it has increased group profits in a “challenging year” through good stock control, margins and costs, together with the Directory’s strong sales. Next Directory was created in the 1980s, but has risen in importance in the last five years and has benefited directly strong internet sales.

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