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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 07:26 GMT
Catalogue sales give Next a lift
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Next is seeing customers migrate to ordering from home
Clothing retailer Next saw its overall sales rise 2.8% in the last five months of 2006, although like-for-like store sales were down 7.5%.

During the period from 31 July to 24 December, the firm's Directory catalogue and internet arm outperformed its chain of High Street stores.

While sales at its Directory arm were up 9.3%, overall sales at its retail division advanced by just 0.8%.

Next said its annual profits should be slightly better than market targets.

It expects to make a pre-tax profit between 463m and 473m for the whole of 2006.

We think the first half of the year will be very difficult
Next finance director David Keens

"In a challenging year we will have increased Group profits through good control of stocks, margins and costs, along with a strong sales performance in Next Directory," it said.

Looking ahead, Next cautioned that it expected the first half of 2007 to be tough for the UK high street.

"We think the first half of the year will be very difficult, we don't think interest rates [and higher costs] in terms of energy and tax have gone through to the consumer, we think it will be quite tough," said Next's finance director David Keens.

"Hopefully the second half will be a little bit brighter."

''Tough conditions'

Separately, budget fashion retailer New Look said its same-store sales rose 3.2% in the run up to Christmas, and that it was continuing with its rapid expansion plans.

New Look said total sales in the 14 weeks to 30 December were up 26%, boosted by new store openings.

"Against tough conditions, the business traded ahead of the market," said New Look chief executive Phil Wrigley.

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23 Mar 06 |  Business

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