Disappointing first quarter for Next as sales plunge 8.1%

Next: worse-than-expected performance
Next: worse-than-expected performance
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Retail giant Next revealed that high street sales plunged by 8.1% in its first quarter and cut its profit outlook once again as it warned that trading would remain under pressure.

The worse-than-expected performance over the 13 weeks to April 29 came despite a boost from the later, warmer Easter this year, although Next said its Directory arm performed better, with sales up 3.3%. This left total full-price sales 3% lower.

Next cut the top end of its profit guidance after the disappointing first quarter, with full-year profits now expected to fall by between 13.9% and 6.4%.

Chief executive Lord Wolfson said the group was still battling to recover from mistakes made last year with its product ranges, while consumer confidence has also been hit as rising prices puts households under pressure.

He said: "There's general pressure on the high street but the omissions in our own range are hitting our sales over and above any downturn."