Next plc (NXT.L) is a retail chain that provides fashion clothing, footwear and accessories for women, men and children. Launched in 1982, it also offers home products and furniture. Next operates via three segments. Next Retail distributes fashion products through 500 stores in the U.K. and Ireland. Next International Retail accounts for global distribution via approximately 200 franchised stores. Next Directory is an online shopping division with more than 4 million customers in the U.K. and 70-plus countries worldwide.
As of January 2018, Next was the second biggest clothing retailer in the U.K. by sales, with a market share of 7.1%. This put it ahead of Primark (with a 6.9% market share) but behind Marks & Spencer (with 8.1%). However, analysts were expecting Primark to overtake Next and move into second place. In common with other mid-market clothing retailers, Next faces strong competition from both budget and premium rivals.
Lord Wolfson, who has been Chief Executive of Next plc since 2001, is one of Britain’s leading retail industry figures and enjoys a high media profile. Michael Roney has served as Chairman of the Board since August 2017. Other key figures at Next plc include Group Finance Director Amanda James, and Group Operations Director Michael Law.
Next plc has its roots in menswear business J Hepworth & Son, which was founded in Leeds in 1864. In 1981, Hepworth bought the chain of Kendall and Sons stores and converted them to the new Next brand. Hepworth stores then followed suit, and in 1986 the company changed its name to Next plc. In 1987 Next Directory was launched.
There was a period of turmoil in 1988, when the shares plunged as the business overstretched itself and chief executive George Davies was sacked. But by 1994 Next had opened its 300thstore and was trading in 16 countries around the world. In 2008 Next acquired younger women’s fashion brand Lipsy. Next was named British High Street Retailer of the Year in 2009.
Next plc reported a “challenging” year to January 2018, with Earnings Per Share declining by 5.6% to 416.7p.Next Retail full price sales declined by 7.0%, while Online full price sales increased by 11.2%. Total Group sales of £4.1 billion were 0.5% down on the previous year. But cash flow remained strong and £586 million was returned to shareholders through ordinary dividends, special dividends and share buybacks.
The Next plc share price has been rather volatile in recent years, falling from an all-time high of £80.00 in October 2015 to just £36.55 in July 2017, before staging a modest recovery. The first quarter of 2018 saw the shares trading between £46.80 and £52.20. To find out how the shares are doing right now, follow Capital.com. Our NXT puts all the information at your fingertips.
Next plc is headquartered in Enderby, Leicestershire. Of its 700 or so stores, 500 are in the U.K. and Ireland, and 200 are in continental Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Next employs over 49,000 people.
Next plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. At the end of March 2018, Next plc was ranked no. 64 in the FTSE, with a market capitalisation of around £6.83 billion. Check out Capital.com for the latest NXT chart. We’ll keep you up to date and in the picture.
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