Online not killing the high street, says Next boss

Next boss Lord Wolfson believes that online retail is not negatively impacting high street retail, with the two able to work hand in hand to boost revenues. 

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He claims that despite Next being the biggest high street retailer online, it is still growing its town centre presence, with the retail business actually benefiting its online sales.

Wolfson says: “The age of shops is not dead. Anything we can to improve choice, access, quality or price will lead to an increase in sales.

“Click and collect must be persuading some people to shop that wouldn’t otherwise do so.”

Next currently offers a service where anyone who orders online before 9pm can pick their shopping up in store after noon the next day. Wolfson claims that around 38 per cent of online shoppers choose this option, a number the firm hopes will rise when it extends that time to 10pm, a move that should happen by the end of the year.

However, it has no plans to try and push shoppers collecting goods in store to buy more while they’re there. He claims that around 20 per cent do, but insists increasing this number isn’t a priority, with most people wanting quick access to their purchases, not more marketing.

“The important task is to get customers their goods quickly. The key is to upsell the right stock in the right place.”

Next is also focused on building up its brand by developing its product ranges so that it becomes known as a risk taker rather than having to respond to the latest trends. Key to that is fabrics, with the firm aiming to improve the way it buys and manages fabric by taking risks and making purchases earlier and in greater quantities.

Next revealed a 8.2 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £271.8m in the first half of the year, one of several retailers to see their performances improve. That is leading to hopes of a recovery on the high street.

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