Growth in online sales helped clothing and apparel retailer Next report a small rise in full-year group sales, the company said in a trading update on Wednesday morning.
The company, led by chief executive Lord Wolfson (left), said full-price sales rose by 1.5% compared with 2016. A 6.1% fall in high street sales was offset by a 13.6% increase in online orders.
Profit guidance updated
Thanks to its stronger than expected full-price sales, the company was able to upgrade its profit guidance for the full year. Despite these upgrades group profit remained down on 2016 earnings.
The highlights included:
- Company expects group profit before tax of £725m, up from its previous guidance of £717m
- Group profit before tax down 8.3% on 2016 - previous forecast of -9.3%
- Earnings per share down 5.7% - previous forecast of -6.8%
Outlook for 2018
Next said that many of the challenges faced in 2017 would continue in the year ahead, particularly subdued consumer demand as real income struggled to make it into positive territory.
These headwinds were expected to ease throughout the year, however, and the company said cost price inflation would disappear during the second half.
A provisional profit forecast for the full-year 2018 was set at around £705m as Next expected operational costs to grow faster than sales.
The company will announce its full results for 2017 on Friday 23 March.