A sales boost in the recent warm weather meant Next could promise higher than expected full-year profits today, sending its shares higher.
The High Street stalwart said the ‘sales over-performance’ will add around £12million to its existing full-year profit guidance of £705million.
But it seems most of the mini-boom in sales was conducted online as sales in stores fell 4.8 per cent in a gloomy reminder of the structural challenges facing the UK High Street.
Next is pencilling in full year profits of £717million, up 2.2 per cent from £705million.
In the clothing giant’s first-quarter trading update, full price sales rose 6 per cent in the 14 weeks to May 7, with online revenue growing 18 per cent.
‘Sales in the first quarter were better than we expected and around £40million ahead of our internal forecast, boosted in recent weeks by unusually warm weather.
‘This sales over-performance adds around £12million to our full year profit and we are therefore increasing our central guidance for group profit accordingly.’
It means that Next is pencilling in full year profits of £717million, up 2.2 per cent from £705million.
Shares rocketed by nearly 7 per cent following the update, and were last 360p up at 5,606p.
However, the figures also show that sales at its high street stores were down 4.8 per cent, reflecting the wider malaise in the retail sector.
Richard Lim, of retail economics, said while the results are better than expected, they should be put in the context of a ‘soft benchmark’ from the previous year.
‘The story of continuous structural challenges underlies the narrative for these results.
‘In-store sales continued to spiral downwards indicating the relentless shift towards online shopping.
‘This reflects the real challenge for many high street retailers who are oversupplied with physical space while consumers increasingly spend both their time and money away from traditional high streets.’
The retail sector has been hammered by rising costs and falling consumer confidence, which has contributed to hundreds of store closures this year.
The overall results will come as welcome relief to Next boss Lord Simon Wolfson, who in March described 2017 as the toughest year in more than two decades as the retail giant posted a second consecutive fall in annual profits.
At the time, Next pointed to ‘product ranging errors and omissions’ as contributing to the poor showing, a result of the firm failing to provide customers with key items, as well as the shift away from consumer spending on clothing.