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Next sales rise during "volatile" quarter

Sales at Next rose 2.2% during a “volatile” first quarter, despite its retail arm dipping 1.9%.

Store openings helped bolster the business, with a 1.5% growth in sales coming from new space.

However it was the online and catalogue business Next Directory that drove much of the multiple’s growth in the 14 weeks to 4 May, climbing 8.9%.

In a statement Next said trading had been “volatile and particularly poor through March and early April”. However mid-April saw a “marked upturn” in sales corresponding to the break in the cold weather.

March’s poor figures were caused by an “abnormally” cold spring but the business had seen a strong performance since mid-April, boosted by “pent up demand” from the previous month.

The high street giant said it remains “cautious” about the consumer environment and said it anticipates the continuing decline in real earnings will depress discretionary spending for at least the next 18 months, if not longer.

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