The retail chain was only launched in February 1982 and the first store opened with an exclusive coordinated collection of stylish clothes, shoes and accessories for women. Collections for men, children and the home quickly followed. NEXT clothes are styled by its in-house design team to offer great style, quality and value for money with a contemporary fashion edge.
Today NEXT trades from more than 500 stores in the UK and Eire and almost 200 stores in more than 30 countries overseas. Online shopping was introduced in 1999 and the entire book became available to shop from on the internet, page by page – another first in home shopping in the UK. NEXT Directory now also serves customers in around 70 countries outside the UK.
They have today issued half year results to 31st July (link via Investegate). Retail stores and its online business both delivered significant growth to lift profit before tax 19.3% to £324.2m for the six months period, with earnings per share up 22% to 173.3p. Sales are up 10.3% to £1.85bn and their full year guidance has been lifted to between 11% and 17% (previously 5.5% and 9.5%) with profits estimate now raised to between £775m - £815m.
Commenting on the results, CEO Lord Wolfson said:
"NEXT has had a good first half, achieving sales and profits ahead of our original expectations. Total sales were 10.3% ahead of last year. Retail stores and NEXT Directory (our online business) both delivered significant growth. Profit before tax rose by 19.3%.
Over the last six months NEXT has experienced its strongest sales growth for many years. We have made good progress improving and extending our ranges, opening profitable new space, improving our service and growing our online business - both in the UK and overseas".
The online buisiness continues to expand overseas and they have started trading in 11 new countries including China which they say presents an ‘interesting opportunity’.
The share price has seen a strong performance since the start of the year increasing 30% from £54 to £70. The interim dividend of 50p - up 39% - will be paid in early January. I am happy with progress so far and topped up my initial holding earlier in the year.
More on this following the full year results.