Next upbeat as half-year profits grow 8.2%

Fashion and furnishings retailer Next today said it was confident of continued growth as it unveiled an 8.2 per cent rise in first-half profits.

The group said sales in the six months to July grew 2.2 per cent to £1.7 billion, helping pre-tax profits rise to £271.8 million, up from £251.3m for the same period last year.

Although sales at its high street stores dipped 0.9 per cent to £1bn, that fall was more than offset by an 8.3 per cent jump in sales at its Directory home shopping business to £597.6m.

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Chief executive Lord Wolfson said: “The group has made good progress in the first half, delivering profits at the upper end of our expectations.

“Looking ahead the economy looks set to improve moderately, albeit at a slow pace and with the risk that credit easing may not translate into growth in real earnings. We remain confident that we can deliver growth in sales, profits and earnings per share for the full year.”

The interim dividend, to be paid on 2 January, was hiked 10 per cent to 36p a share.