Mar 30, 2021
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Analysts tip Next for rosy future

Mar 30, 2021

Long seen as a bellwether for the health of UK clothing retail, Next is set to reveal its annual trading figures on 1 April. And although the market expects to see profits slashed more than half in its latest year, the outlook is far from gloomy.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

Despite its stores being shuttered by non-essential stores’ lockdown measures, analysts are expecting an optimistic forecast for the new financial year with the retailer anticipated to recover strongly as restrictions continue to ease from next month.

The upbeat view is backed by the retailer consistently having upgraded its profit forecasts over the past financial year on the back of strong online sales volumes.

Analysts at the Royal Bank of Canada told Proactive Investors that the retailer’s strong online and credit offer leave it well-placed to benefit from heavily disrupted UK mid-market, “by leveraging its logistics, range and customer loyalty advantages”. 

The Canadian bank has upgraded its investment stance to ‘outperform' from 'sector perform’ while also upping its FY22-23 profit forecasts 5%-9% above consensus.

Analysts generally are also anticipating more news on its emerging ‘Total Platform’ offer, including third-party brands and the recently-acquired Reiss and Victoria's Secret (UK) brands, as the group works to expand its portfolio to further spark recovery.

Next is expected to post pre-tax profits of around £342 million for the year to January, compared with a £728 million profit for the previous year. However, this is a significant improvement on much earlier projections when CEO Simon Wolfson warned it might not deliver any profit.

But in January, he said the retailer was expecting to record flat sales for 2021-22 with a pre-tax profit of around £670 million. That forecast came as Next posted better-than-expected sales in the run-up to Christmas, with revenues dipping just 1.1% in the nine weeks to 26 December.


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