Next has increased its full year profit guidance following an 11.9% increase in total sales in the fourth quarter.
The company, led by Lord Wolfson, has emerged as one of the high street winners over the Christmas period with retail sales up 7.7% on last year for the period of November 1 to December 24. Next directory sales, which takes in its catalogue and online arms, surged 21% for the period following increased confidence in online deliveries.
As a result of the strong performance, the group’s pre-tax profit and earnings per share (EPS) guidance for the full year to January 24 is now £684m to £700m, up from the £650m to £680m forecast in October.
Total sales for the year to date are now 1.25% ahead of the top end of the guidance predicted in the company’s October Interim Management Statement.
Retail sales from November 1 to December 24 were up 7.7% year-on-year while Next directory sales, which takes in its catalogue and online arms, increased 21% for the period following increased confidence in online deliveries.
Sales of Christmas jumpers, nightwear and gifts were particularly strong in the run up to the festive season and the total stock for the company’s end of season Sale was down 11.5% on last year.
Budgets for the year ahead are based on growth in Next Brand sales of between 3% and 7%, and pre-tax profit is expected to be up broadly in line with sales.
The company has also confirmed that a special dividend of 50 pence per share will be paid on February 3 to those members on the company’s register at the close of business on January 17. Shares will trade ex-dividend from January 15.
Next’s results follow strong Christmas trading from John Lewis and House of Fraser. Earlier this week Debenhams issued a profit warning after reporting poor sales for the run-up to Christmas.