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Next reveals new strategy to boost "mature" directory business

Next plans to drive further growth in its directory business by improving customer service in the UK and increasing its marketing internationally, acknowledging that arm is becoming “mature”.

Speaking to Drapers as the retailer reported a 4.5% uplift in sales for the 26 weeks to July 28, Next chief executive Simon Wolfson said growth from its multichannel business would get “harder and harder” in the UK as it was reaching saturation point before many of its competitors.

To continue growth, the retailer plans to improve on service by launching Sunday and evening delivery options in the next 18 months.

But Wolfson has earmarked international growth as the main driver for Next’s future, and plans to launch a version of its website in China in the next six months, as well as continuing to build in those territories in which it already has a footprint.

“We have got a presence in almost all the territories we want to be in so now it is going to be about building awareness of our business in those areas,” he said.

Australia and America are performing particularly well, Wolfson noted, a fact that he attributed to the lack of language barrier.

“The Far East and South America are more of a challenge,” he said.

The retailer’s UK bricks and mortar presence had performed in line with expectations, Wolfson added. The retailer plans to open another 90,000 sq ft of store space domestically this year, and between 300,000 and 400,000 sq ft of space next year.

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