Next has entrenched its dominance over rival
The clothing chain upped its profit forecast for the third time since March, from £750m-£790m to £775m-£815m, in the latest sign that shoppers are out spending again. Its high street sales rose by 6.4% in the three months to 26 July, with directory catalogue and online sales surging 18.8% over the same period. Next continues to take market share from rivals after expanding into homewares and revamping its clothing ranges. The warm weather has boosted sales of summer clothes and swimwear.
The retail chain's chief executive,
Next, long regarded as a "little sister" to M&S, caused a stir when its stock-market value overtook its rival two years ago despite having far fewer stores and total sales. Today Next has a market value of about £10bn against its rival's £7.1bn. This year, Next leapfrogged the M&S with annual profits of £695m, and looks to have widened its lead over M&S.
Next has more than 500 stores in
Next's sales are ahead of the 5.5%-9.5% full-year growth guidance given in April, prompting the company to raise this to 7%-10%.
Wolfson said he remains concerned about the impact of higher interest rates and rampant house prices in south-east
Next recently lost product director
Fredddie George, retail analyst at
He added: "The directory will continue to benefit from growth in the online market, an increase in customer numbers, a broadening of the ranges and the opportunity to develop overseas."
Next delighted shareholders by paying a third special dividend of 50p a share this week, repeating payouts in February and May.
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