Belfast Telegraph

Sales rise sees Next lift profit forecast

By Roger Baird

Fashion chain Next stepped up the pressure on rival Marks & Spencer by raising its profits guidance for the current year to as much as £790m.

The group, which has 540 UK stores, lifted its expectations after sales surged by 10.8% in the first 13 weeks of the financial year.

This was ahead of the 4% to 8% full-year guidance given in March, prompting it to revise the range for the year to January to between 5.5% and 9.5%.

It will mean that full-year pre-tax profit forecasts are now expected to be between £750m and £790m, an increase of £20m at the top and bottom end of the range.

In March, it posted £695m in annual profits, which easily beats the £628m due from M&S when its reports its full-year figures on May 20.

Alongside Primark, Next has been one of the strongest performers on the high street, with sales growth coming from both its shops and directory business.

The business denied its latest guidance was too conservative as it pointed out that this year's sales compared with a poorer quarter last year.

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