Lord Wolfson stuck his head above the parapet once again in 2018, as one of the first UK retailers to make public in September the steps Next has taken to mitigate against a no-deal Brexit.
Wolfson, who personally supported the decision for the UK to leave the European Union, said that, although departing without a free trade agreement and managed transition period is not its preferred outcome, Next is well prepared to ensure business continues as usual. Wolfson said the biggest risk in the event of a no-deal Brexit is that ports will seize up and restrict the flow of goods coming into the UK.
Among other measures, he urged the government to temporarily raise import thresholds for goods brought into the UK and extend temporary trusted trader status for importers to alleviate pressure on ports.
Meanwhile, Next has delivered a solid performance this year. Pre-tax profits edged up 0.5% to £311.1m in the six months to 31 July, as total sales rose 3.9% year on year. Store sales were down 6.9%, but online sales were up 16.8%.
Childrenswear and nursery brand Mamas & Papas opened its first concession in Next in November.
Next increased its profit guidance for the full year by £10m to £727m after sales in August and September exceeded expectations – no mean feat given the turbulent trading climate.