Fashion giant Next has announced it is set to make profits of at least £611 million this year.
It comes after the Enderby-based group reported ‘robust’ sales in the run-up to Christmas, mainly thanks to its online operation.
In recognition, hundreds of staff at Next are to share a ‘multi million-pound’ bonus as the fashion chain racks up its highest profits in its 30-year history.
Chief Executive Lord Simon Wolfson said the group, which has more than 530 UK stores, would continue to grow its online business, which accounts for about a third of total sales, and open 17 more superstores, which combine fashion, homeware, DIY and gardening products under one roof.
Lord Wolfson also announced the creation of a £2 million creche at Next’s head office in Desford Road, Enderby, creating about 40 jobs.
The retailer says profits in the year to January 31 were expected to be between £611 million and £625 million, compared to £579 million in the previous 12-month period.
This marks the fourth consecutive year of record profits for the 31-year-old business, which has more than 500 UK stores and employs about 3,500 people in Leicestershire.
In a statement Next said sales at its stores rose 0.8 per cent between November 1 and Christmas Eve, compared to the same period in 2011. However, online trading was up 11.2 per cent, elevating total sales by 3.9 per cent over the period.
The company is reported as saying there was “little risk of a significant downturn” in high street spending, but gave a cautious outlook for 2013. The retailer said “…On balance, we expect the consumer environment to remain subdued but steady”.