Next undeterred by autumn sales slide

Fashion giant Next has insisted it is 'business as usual', despite the recent slump in sales that sent its share price into a tailspin last week.

The retailer announced that Next Retail's comparable sales between August 11 and October 2 were down 3.1 per cent on the previous year. However, overall sales were 5.6 per cent ahead of last year. For the period July 28 to October 2, like-for-likes sales were up 1 per cent.

Broker ING believes the like-for-like slide in recent months will have cost the retailer around£17.5 million in sales and up to£7 million in profit. ING has downgraded its pre-tax forecasts for this year and next by£15 million to£287 million and£313 million respectively.

ING said the retailer might have unnerved customers with its ranges.

'We believe it might have tried to push fashionability levels slightly beyond where their customers feel comfortable,' the broker noted.

A Next spokeswoman would not comment on ranging. Sales in autumn/winter were hit three years ago when Next adopted too 'fashionable' an offer.

The spokeswoman admitted range changes were being made, but said the offer is always being modified. In the last fortnight, 40,000 customers have been sent Next's 800-page softback spring/summer preview catalogue.

'We always look at the balance of the ranges, and the great thing about the preview is it allows us to do that,' she said.

Next reported trading figures ahead of the circulation of capital restructuring information.