The retailer’s profits halved during the pandemic year – but it was buoyed by online sales and sees a likely rebound ahead.

A shop worker cleans the exterior of a Next retail shop on Oxford Street following the introduction of measures to bring England out of lockdown. 11/6/2020 Store sales fell by 48%. Next delivered the upbeat assessment as it reported a 54% slump in pre-tax earnings to £342m for the year to the end of January as lockdowns took their toll.

Store sales fell 48% to £954m while online sales rose 10% to £2.4bn – and the group expects the trend towards digital will continue even after the pandemic.  Meanwhile, the type of clothes people are ordering has helped Next. Fewer customers have been sent selections of dresses, most of which will be sent back, while more have been stocking up on baby grows, which will not.

Next forecasts another tough year for store sales ahead but has still hiked its annual profit outlook for the current year by £30m to £700m after recent strong trading via its website.

VR Niti Sejpal