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Simon Wolfson, Chief executive, Next

Simon Wolfson has succeeded in managing City expectations of Next during turbulent economic times.

Like-for-like sales fell 4.4% in the 14 weeks to November 1 at the middle-market retailer but total sales rose 0.9% for the period, thanks to Wolfson’s tight cost controls. He says the outlook for the rest of the year and 2009 remains unchanged and he is budgeting for like-for-like sales to be down.

This year, Next launched a branded young fashion site, Brand Directory, to compete with the likes of Asos and Littlewoods. The business also acquired young fashion brand Lipsy for £17.4 million, prompting speculation of a change in strategy.

Wolfson has been vocal on economic issues this year, appearing on BBC TV’s Question Time and slamming the 2.5% VAT cut as doing nothing to stimulate the economy. He is thought to harbour political ambitions.

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