UK retailer Next’s performance in the last three months has been encouraging on a number of fronts. The firm’s price increase was less than expected (around four per cent so far with two per cent expected next spring and no increases for autumn/winter ’18) this has meant less of a negative impact than some had feared.
Next’s full price sales in the first half were down 1.2 per cent and total sales including markdowns were down 2.3 per cent on last year. Total Next sales fell 2.2 per cent and Next brand’s profitability overall was down 9.3 per cent. Group profit before tax was down a heftier 9.5 per cent and earnings per share fell 6.2 per cent.
The Directory division is buoyant with its total sales rise of 5.7 per cent also including a full-price sales hike of 7.4 per cent. While full-price sales only grew 3.1 per cent in Britain, abroad they surged 30.7 per cent. The retailer is investing heavily in the Directory with personalisation, targeted marketing, an Amazon-style subscription service, major tech enhancements and more.
For the full year, Label sales are expected to rise 14 per cent and the net margin to rise to 17 per cent from 16 per cent a year earlier. Lipsy saw sales up 21 per cent in the latest half as it rebalanced away from wholesale towards selling through Next stores.