Next chief executive Simon Wolfson has hit out at landlords, arguing that rental payment terms need to “come in line with the times”.

He said he was backing retailers’ demands (Retail Week, last week) for monthly rent payments, rather than quarterly as is common practice at present. “Paying three months in advance is not the right way to do business,” Wolfson said.

He spoke out as Next revealed it had suffered another tough half, posting a 6 per cent drop in full-price like-for-like sales in the 26 weeks to July 26. The decline was in line with City expectations but, despite the second quarter being slightly better than the first, the retailer remained cautious about trade in the second half.

Wolfson said: “I think that the full effects of the housing market, higher food and fuel prices have still not filtered through. There will be at least another year of a squeeze on our customers’ purses.”

He will continue to focus on efficient stock and cost control, but emphasised that he would not slash costs for the sake of it. “I am looking at opportunities to save money, but will not sacrifice the long-term business for short-term gains,” he insisted.

He added that Next was assessing the potential of smaller overseas markets. Greece is likely to be the next international debut.