Next to boost ranges as it moves to bigger stores

Fashion retailer Next is to expand product areas including lingerie, maternity wear and homewares as it moves into larger stores.

Next chief executive Simon Wolfson said lingerie ranges will be developed to include more glamorous pieces, as well as basics.

Maternity wear will be put into 50 stores, compared with 30 at present, while homewares will be ramped up.

'Homewares is still a fragmented market, and we expect there to be further consolidation. We need to work with our supplier base to improve our offer,' said Wolfson.

Last week, Next announced a 14 per cent surge in full-year sales to£2.5 billion from£2.2 billion last year, while profit before tax came to£353.3 million from£301.2 million last year.

Retail space will be increased by 15 per cent this year, adding another 420,000 sq ft (39,020 sq m). This is less than the 21 per cent growth in 2003/2004, but more than Next's average of 10 per cent. New shops will be at least 10,000 sq ft (930 sq m) in order to display the entire product offer. Next's biggest shop to date, an 80,000 sq ft (7,430 sq m) superstore, will open at Manchester's Arndale Centre in 2005/2006.

Next aims to increase market share in its core clothing market by launching a raft of price cuts. The average selling price across the group fell by about 5 per cent last year, and is expected to fall by 5 per cent again this year.

Wolfson said price deflation could boost turnover.

'If we can get the same margin, but give the same product to our customer at a lower price, that will increase sales,' he said.