Next chief brands 2017 "most challenging" in 25 years

GettyThe retailer's profit's slumped 8.1 percent in 2017

GettyThe retailer's profit's slumped 8.1 percent in 2017

Total sales dropped back by 0.5 per cent to £4.1bn, with solid 9.2 per cent growth in online sales offset by a steep drop in Next retail.

Next announced in a statement this morning that its retail sales had declined by 7.9 percent to £2.12 billion in the year ended January 2018.

"Whilst it has been an uncomfortable year it has also prompted us to take a fresh look at nearly everything we do", said CEO Simon Wolfson, "from the structure of our store our sourcing and buying methods".

The clothing retailer said it made a pretax profit for the year to end-Jan.

"The benefit of a growing economy and growing real wages will far outweigh the cost of increased interest rates", he said.

Next are by no means the only retailer trying to navigate this flawless storm of rising sourcing and operating costs against a backdrop of seismic structural shifts in shopping behaviour and softer demand. Online sales are expected to grow 10.3%.

"Whilst it has been an uncomfortable year it has also prompted us to take a fresh look at nearly everything we do: from the structure of our store portfolio, the in-store experience and the generation of alternative retail revenue streams, the management of our cost base, our sourcing and buying methods, stock management and, most importantly, our online systems, marketing and fulfilment platform", said CEO Simon Wolfson.

Simon Wolfson
GETTYSir Simon Wolfson described 2017 as"the most challenging year we have faced for 25 years

It comes as the business reported a £64m drop in profits and a £181m fall in retail sales.

Consumers and businesses have also been hammered by rising Brexit-fuelled inflation, with Next having to pay up to 12 per cent more for its products as a result of the pound's post-referendum slump. "We expect NS to make around $40m profit, a decline of 7% on the year to January 2018".

The chief executive of high street retailer Next has branded 2017 as the "most challenging year" the company has faced in 25 years.

"Next has given itself a mountain to climb over the coming year and it remains to be seen whether the improvements are achievable", said Wolfson.

Next would pass any reduction in costs to shoppers by way of lower prices, he said.

However, it struck a brighter note for the time ahead, saying it expects to generate £300m of surplus cash. An improved second half was not enough to prop up full-year sales.

It appears in better shape than many other retailers in Britain.

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