Fashion group Next’s sale of its third-party customer service business Ventura was welcomed by analysts

The retailer sold Ventura - which has been part of Next since its inception in 1977 - to support services firm Capita for £65m. Cash raised will be used by the retailer to buy back shares.

Singer Capital Markets analyst Matthew McEachran said: “Call centre operations were never core, and the industry remains extremely competitive. Management can now focus entirely on their core activities of retailing and sourcing.”

In the year to January 2011, the customer service business reported turnover of £156m and an operating profit of £8m. Next will continue to use Ventura for its own customer services.

Next outlined the potential for £160m of share buybacks in its current year, but now anticipates the figure could be as high as £225m.

Despite the buyback programme running ahead of schedule, Singer did not change its earnings per share forecasts because consumer conditions are expected to worsen during the year.