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Next ready for tough Christmas

Next is dropping its Christmas TV ads and cutting back on seasonal staff recruitment in anticipation of tough trading over the festive season.

Chief executive Simon Wolfson said that last year’s Christmas campaign had “got lost” in a frenzy of other retail ads and that the money would be spent better elsewhere.
Next is running an autumn TV campaign which will hit screens later this month and there will be a concerted autumn and Christmas print campaign. The move is a step back from last year when the retailer spent an additional £18 million on advertising. “People like our ads but I can’t say hand on heart that they result in a big sales increase. However, we didn’t do them for that – it is all part of the work we are doing to change customers’ perception of Next.”

Wolfson said he could not say what the lower number of staff taken on for the Christmas period would be but said that the cut would be in line with trading performance. He added: “It’s pretty simple if, for example, you think you are going to be down 6% on last year then you budget for 6% less staffing hours.”

Wolfson added that he was not anticipating sales growth over the Christmas period. “There will be a peak but I am not anticipating that it will be significantly different from last year. If like-for-likes run at 6% down between now and December 1 for example, I would not expect to see much difference between December 1 and Christmas.”

Next’s like-for-like sales fell 6% and pre-tax profits dropped 12.4% to £173.5m for the six months to the end of July.

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