Home shopping gives retailer a much needed boost
Next chairman David Jones revealed a 3.2 per cent fall in like-for-like sales for the first fifteen weeks of the new financial year at the retailer's AGM this morning.

However, taking into account existing stores which are impacted by the opening of new space pushed like-for-like sales further down to a drop of 6.3 per cent. The news immediately took 2 per cent off the retailer's share price.

Total retail sales are up 6 per cent from the same period last year. The retailer's home shopping business Next Directory rose 8.1 per cent, bringing the total Next brand sales up to 6.6 per cent for the period.

Market analysts will be unsurprised by the figures for Next Directory, because home shopping appears to be having an easier time compared with high street trading. However the drop in like-for-like sales have caused them some concern.

Evolution analyst Nick Bubb put the disappointing result to a number of possible factors. He said it could be caused by a weakness in ranging, the effect of Marks & Spencer improving or just a manifestation of wider strife in the market.

'I think it's more likely to be the latter,' he said. 'It makes me nervous about what M&S will produce when it announces its own results next week.'

The fashion retailer reported a 13 per cent rise in group turnover to£2.85 billion and a pre-tax profit of£423 million, compared with£250.1 million last year.