Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Next increases profit forecast

Next head office
Next remains cautious about prospects for 2010

Fashion retailer Next has increased its full-year profit forecast after reporting better-than-expected sales.

In the 22 weeks to 24 December, like-for-like sales at Next Retail were up 3.2%, including internet trading.

Its mail order business, Next Directory, saw sales increase by 6.8% compared with a year ago.

Next has now boosted its full-year profit forecast to between £490m and £500m, higher than a previous estimate of about £472m.

The quality of management at Next is again being underlined
Keith Bowman, Hargreaves Lansdown

Shares in Next have risen by 93% over the past year.

In a statement, Next said that its post-Christmas sale had "gone well", but added it was cautious about 2010.

"We do not necessarily expect the year ahead to be as good as the previous six months," it said.

Next said that the scale of the action needed to tackle the UK's public finances could threaten consumer spending, with shoppers facing potential tax increases, government spending cuts and rising interest rates.

Analyst Keith Bowman, from Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers said the figures demonstrated good leadership at the firm.

"The quality of management at Next is again being underlined. Sales and profit momentum continue to build."

The good news for retailers continued as department store chain John Lewis reported record sales for the Christmas season.

The retailer reported revenues of £500.8m in the five weeks to 2 January 2010, with like-for-like sales up 12.7% from last year.

The group said it had sold goods worth more than £100m in four of the five weeks over the festive trading period.

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