Next shares rise as group raises profit guidance

Next

Next raised its profit guidance by £30m for this year.

Despite store closures amid the pandemic, the group saw a surge in online sales.

In the year to the end of January 2022, profits are expected to some in at £700m – this is up from the previous expectations of £670m. 

Online sales jumped 60% in the first eight weeks of the new financial year compared to two years ago.

 In the year to the end of January 2021, pre-tax profits fell to £342m from £729m. Revenues fell 17% in the same period.

Lord Simon Wolfson, the chief executive of Next, said: “If we had been told 12 months ago that our shops were going to be shut for 20 weeks, we could not have imagined the group delivering the sales or profit we achieved last year. We have been very fortunate. For a number of different reasons, our business was well placed to cope with the pandemic.”

“There remains a big question mark over the level of sales our stores will achieve when they reopen. The pandemic has served to accelerate a pre-existing social trend – the move to more online shopping. History has been given a shove and, having moved forward, seems unlikely to reverse,” he added.

Steve Clayton, fund manager of the Hargreaves Lansdown Select funds, commented on Next’s performance:

“Profits may have more than halved, but to be reporting any sort of profit at all as a fashion retailer after a year like 2020 is a remarkable achievement. But NEXT is a remarkable business.

“The group saw the potential of online retailing years before their rivals took it seriously. As a result Next was earning most of its money online, even before the pandemic struck.

“That has left it in a far stronger position than rivals like M&S (loss-making), or Arcadia and Debenhams (both now bankrupt). When Next does reopen their doors they will be perhaps the strongest of the survivors and Britons have saved up a lot of spending money during lockdown. We see Next as incredibly well positioned to generate profit and cash in the years ahead,” he added.

Shares in Next are trading +2.32% (1153GMT).