Next in line for profits increase
Fashion chain Next has unveiled a 9% rise in profits but admitted recent trading had been "quiet".
The group, which has 541 stores, said current demand reinforced its cautious approach as it budgets for stores to take moderately less than the previous year.
Sales in its retail estate were flat at £2.19bn in the year to January but with its online Directory business increasing revenues by 9.5% to £1.2bn the blue-chip company's profits rose to £621.6m.
Chairman John Barton said the group did well in difficult conditions. But he added: "We anticipate another challenging year ahead, with little if any growth in the UK retail economy."
Sales in the current financial year are at the bottom of its target range, although it hopes this situation will improve as temperatures return to normal.
It is targeting profits of between £615m and £665m this year, helped by stability in supply costs.
Shares were 1% higher following the update, which came on the day that Next opened its latest store at the new £350m Trinity Leeds shopping centre.