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Drapers Top 100 2017 – 3. Lord Wolfson, chief executive, Next

It has been a year of ups and downs for Next. It reported falling sales and profits in the first half, but chief executive Lord Wolfson said it was in a “much more comfortable position” going into the second. In November it revealed that full-price sales had edged up in the third quarter, although it warned that the tough trading environment was expected to continue into Christmas. Despite these challenges,

Next’s market value of £6.5bn remains far ahead of its rival, Marks & Spencer, at £5.2bn.

In June, Drapers exclusively revealed that Next planned to launch a new own brand. Label/Mix offers collaborations with emerging designers such as Rejina Pyo. It is also experimenting with making its stores more relevant and fun by, for example, introducing a prosecco bar in its Manchester Arndale store. And it performed consistently well in our autumn 17 Hit or Miss secret shopping review of the fashion and footwear offer at Intu Lakeside.

A firm Brexiteer, Wolfson has nonetheless been quick to challenge the government on its negotiation strategy, warning against a hard-line approach, and urging ministers to maintain free trade and movement of people.I

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