Apr 29, 2015
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Next's first-quarter sales top guidance

Apr 29, 2015

Next, Britain's second biggest clothing retailer, maintained its annual profit forecast after posting first-quarter sales slightly ahead of its own guidance and said it would pay another special dividend.

The group, which trades from over 500 stores in Britain and Ireland and almost 200 stores overseas as well as the Directory catalogue and internet business, said on Wednesday full price sales rose 3.2 percent in the 13 weeks to April 25.

That was ahead of company guidance for the first half of flat to up 3 percent.

Next said sales in the first quarter were flattered by the earlier launch of its summer "New-In" brochure, which helpfully coincided with much warmer weather. It estimated this timing effect increased its reported number by around 0.6 percent.

Full price retail sales were up 0.5 percent, while Directory sales were up 7.0 percent.

The firm said total sales were up 4.1 percent, reflecting a better winter end-of-season sale and a larger mid-season sale in Directory.

Last month Next cut its sales guidance for 2015-16, highlighting weaker collections and tough comparative numbers in the spring and summer.

That guidance was maintained on Wednesday - total full price sales of 1.5-5.5 percent in the year to end Jan. 2016.

Pretax profit is forecast at 785-835 million pounds ($1.20-$1.28 billion), growth of 0.4-6.7 percent.

During the first quarter Next's share price remained above its buyback price limit of 68.27 pounds, so it did not use surplus cash to retire any shares in the period.

The firm will therefore pay a further special dividend of 60 pence per share on August 3.

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