Next's first quarter retail sales fall

Next has reported a 1.9 per cent fall in retail sales in the first quarter, blaming an unseasonably cold March.

Next has reported a 1.9 per cent fall in retail sales in the first quarter, blaming an unseasonably cold March.

The UK retailer said poor weather stopped shoppers from stocking up on new summer ranges in March, which affected the overall performance of the first three months of the year. Sales picked up in April as the weather warmed up.

In contrast, its home shopping catalogue and website division Directory rose 8.9% during the quarter. Brand sales excluding VAT were up 2.2% of which 1.5% came from the opening of new space.

"It is apparent that the poor March figures were down to an abnormally cold spring, equally the good weeks since mid April have been boosted by pent up demand from the previous month," Next said in a statement.

"We believe that neither period is indicative of any significant change in the underlying economy."

The company is confident of meeting its full-year sales guidance range of a 1.0% to 4.0% rise and a profit range of £615m to £665m. Earnings per share are estimated to grow between 4.0% to 13%.

RD

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