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Next group annual sales up two per cent

Next total group sales are up 2.5 per cent. Finance sales rose 12.1 per cent. Group pre-tax profit was down 0.4 per cent on last year. Retail profit fell 21 per cent but online profit was up 13.8 per cent while profit after tax dipped slightly. The group expects profits to marginally decline by around 1.1 per cent in the current financial year. The company remains committed to third-party label business. While that means it sells brands that compete with its own label, it recognises that customers will go online and will find those other brands somewhere else, so it would rather it finds them via Next than via its competitors.

For the year, Next full-price sales in retail stores fell by 7.9 per cent. Its retail store sales dropped from a year earlier, while online sales rose. This is particularly significant because online sales are now almost as big as those through retail stores and chances are that by next year, they will be bigger. Last year saw it negotiating a rent reduction of 29 per cent on the leases that it renewed and further reductions on leases renewed in the previous year. It expects similar cuts this year too.