Apr 1, 2021

Upbeat Next waits for outlook to clear until resuming shareholder payouts

Next expects its full-year profits to be better than expected, but held back from resuming shareholder cash returns until the outlook is clearer. The retailer targeted profit of around £700m in the current financial year, approximately matching its year-to-January 2020 total and about £30m higher than its previous estimate. Revenue will remain flat year on year, with profitability helped by better than expected online sales and the extension of the UK government's business rates holiday for an additional three months. Online sales jumped more than 60 per cent in the first eight weeks of this financial year compared with two years ago. Equiniti, the financial services outsourcer, posted a £6.6m pre-tax loss for 2020 as revenue fell 15.1 per cent to £471.8m. Cheryl Millington, chief executive, said: "While uncertainty continues, the outlook for capital market activity in 2021 is encouraging and we have started the year well with a number of important new business wins."

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