Next Plc has announced its results for its year ending January 2020. Next brand full price sales were up 4.0% and brand total sales (including markdown sales) were up 3.5% on last year.
Group profit before tax was up +0.8% and Earnings Per Share (EPS) were up +5.6% on last year. Group profit of £728.5m was just ahead of the guidance of £727m given in its January 2020 Trading Statement, due to better than expected full price sales in January.
The Next chief executive, Simon Wolfson, also commented on the Coronavirus pandemic. He stated:
"The evidence we have from sales to date in the UK and from our (small) international websites in the worst affected countries is that:
? Demand will be the biggest issue and although the virus is likely to impact our operations, we do not believe this will be as damaging as the very significant drop in sales sustained both in retail and online.
? Online sales are likely to fare better than retail but will also suffer significant losses. People do not buy a new outfit to stay at home. There is some evidence from our overseas sites that as restrictions on movement increase, the difference between online and retail sales performance widens, with online picking up a small amount of the business that cannot be carried out in store.
? Some product areas are likely to fare better than others. To date, our homeware and childrenswear sales appear to be less affected than our adult clothing lines.
"Our priority is to do all we can to keep our workplaces and shops as safe as possible for customers and staff. At the same time we must prepare the business for varying levels of sales declines. To that end we have modelled the effects of differing levels of sales declines along with all the measures we can take to ensure that the Company remains within its bond and bank facilities."