Retail trio set to lift high street confidence

NEXT, Ted Baker and Debenhams are expected to point to a rise in consumer confidence this week by unveiling robust sales figures.

Next grappled with a disappointing Christmas, adverse weather and a consumer spending squeeze but is still expected to unveil higher profits.

The clothes-to-furniture chain’s stores have struggled but it is forecast to report a 4 per cent rise in pre-tax profits and strong growth in its online Directory business, which is expected to deliver more than £1 billion in sales for the full year.

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The group has been one of the best-performing stocks in the FTSE 100 Index over the past year, surging more than 55 per cent in the last 12 months. But analysts have warned that the focus is likely to be on where Next is heading, after the business said profits are likely to be fairly flat.

Fashion house Ted Baker’s recent strong performance will pave the way for it to follow in the footsteps of luxury fashion brands Burberry and Mulberry by expanding rapidly overseas.

The group recently said it enjoyed a stellar performance over Christmas when sales rose 15.7 per cent.

Online growth and exclusive ranges are expected to help Debenhams on Tuesday report resilient sales. Shares have risen 20 per cent so far in 2012, reflecting its resilient performance and hopes that it will announce a share buy-back programme to return money to investors.

Online sales grew 35 per cent in its last update and are expected to have continued this trend, while its Designers at Debenhams labels, including ranges by John Rocha and Jasper Conran, help give it a point of difference with rivals.