NEXT's annual profits rise on online sales

UK retailer NEXT unveiled a rise in 2012 profits on Thursday boosted by growth in online sales and business expansion.

UK retailer NEXT unveiled a rise in 2012 profits on Thursday boosted by growth in online sales and business expansion.

Pre-tax profits climbed by 9.0% to £621.6 for the year to the end of January 2013, compared to £570.3m a year earlier.

The company's online offering, NEXT Directory, drove results with a 9.5% increase in revenues of £1.2bn and a 15.1% jump in profit of £302.1m. The company's brand sales also grew 3.2% to £3.3m.

It offset flat revenues at the firm's NEXT Retail unit as sales of £2.2m were in line with the previous year's results.

NEXT said the results reflected the UK's move towards online shopping.

"NEXT Directory continues to provide good opportunities for growth. In the UK, growth is driven by the wider online market and by improving delivery services," the company explained.

During the year, the retailer also benefited from 250,000 sq ft of new space to its store portfolio. However, the firm missed its target of 300,000 sq ft as it took longer than expected to receive planning permissions for new projects. A fire also delayed one of the group's new large sites.

NEXT proposed a dividend of 105p per share, a 16.7% increase from the year before.

Looking ahead, Chairman John Barton said he anticipates another challenging year with "little if any growth in the UK retail economy".

"In these circumstances we again aim to achieve growth by investing in the Brand, improving our products, controlling costs and returning cash to our shareholders," he said.

RD

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