Pre-tax profits at high street giant Next increased 9% in the full-year to January 2013 to £622m however the retailer reported a “quiet” start to the first few weeks of this year.
In his statement, Next chief executive Lord Wolfson said that since the end of the last full-year period trading had been “quiet and served to reinforce a more cautious approach”.
For the full-year period sales increased by 3.1%, driven by a 9.5% growth in the retailer’s Directory business, which includes both its catalogue and online offer.
Sales from retail stores were flat at £2.19bn although the retailer said that around 20% of its Directory sales were actually delivered through stores.
International sales grew from £33m to £54m over the year with Next now selling direct to 60 international territories, and also through six franchise partners in 14 of those countries.
The retailer’s international online business contributed £10m to its profit.
Looking ahead Wolfson said that sales growth for Next would come from “investment in profitable new space and the continuing growth in the online market, both in the UK and overseas.”
In terms of margins for the year ahead Wolfson added: “Overall factory gate prices are stable. Any increases in Far Eastern wages have generally been offset by manufacturing productivity improvements or the development of new Far Eastern sources of supply, in particular Bangladesh and Cambodia.”
Next is planning to increase its retail selling space by around 250,000 sq ft during its current financial year.