Sep 10, 2008
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Next H1 profit falls 12 percent

Sep 10, 2008


LONDON, Sept 10 (Reuters) - British fashion retailer Next Plc posted a 12 percent fall in first-half pretax profit on Wednesday but said its internal forecast for the full year remained in line with the market consensus.

The UK's second-largest clothing retailer by sales made an underlying pretax profit of 173.5 million pounds for the 26 weeks to July 26, down from 198.2 million pounds in the same period last year. Analysts' estimates had ranged from 165 million pounds to 177 million pounds.

Next said the majority of external forecasts for full-year pretax profit were currently in the range 400 million to 440 million pounds.

The profit decline reflected a fall in sales, partly offset by gross margin gains. Like-for-like full-price sales from 353 Next Retail stores were down 6 percent, while sales in the Next Directory home shopping operation increased 2.2 percent.

Many UK retailers are struggling as consumers curb spending because of higher fuel, food and mortgage costs. Fashion retailers have also had to cope with a second consecutive summer of dismal weather.

Next said it would pay an interim dividend of 18 pence, unchanged from the previous year.

The group's shares have halved in value over the last year, underperforming the DJ Stoxx European retail index by 24 percent.

The stock closed on Tuesday at 1,143 pence, valuing the business at 2.5 billion pounds. (Reporting by James Davey and Matt Scuffham; editing by Will Waterman)

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