Next profit and sales rise

Next warns consumers of future price rises as it reports a 15% boost in profit.

The fashion retailer reports profit increased to £213m and group sales rose 5% to £1.6bn in the first half.

Next says that new space expansion and the “excellent” performance of its catalogue business Next Directory offset a -1.5% drop in like for like retail sales.

The chain warns that comparing like for like sales has “become a little confusing as a measure of performance”.

Next Directory registered a 9.5% increase in sales, 70% or which came via the internet.

The retailer says it has focused its marketing spend on “the most profitable methods” which boosted customer numbers.

Lord Wolfson, Next chief executive, warns that a sharp increase in the cost of cotton could mean clothing prices rising by between 5 and 8% next year.

However, Woflson does not expect a double dip recession or a “meltdown in consumer spending” despite the impact of Government sending cuts.

Last week, Next launched a French-themed television advert for its autumn/winter clothing range.

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