Retailer Next has announced a lift in sales for the first half of the financial year, triggered by new openings.
The popular fashion and home furnishings firm, which has 22 stores in the North East, has released a trading statement in which it said brand sales rose were up 10.7% in the 26 weeks to July 26, of which 2.4% came from the opening of profitable new space.
Next retail sales were up 7.5% and Next Directory was up 16.2%.
The company said sales are currently ahead of the forecasted 5.5% to 9.5% full year growth guidance given in April, leading the firm to raise estimates for the year.
The firm now predicts growth of between 7% and 10%.
Following a better than expected start to 2014 the company is raising its profit guidance by £25m and now forecasts pre-tax profits to fall between £775m and £815m for the full year.
The trading statement said: “It might appear overly cautious to forecast a full year sales range which is below our current rate of growth. However, last year’s first two quarters were hampered by a particularly cold
Spring and Easter which presented a soft comparison for this year.
“Last year sales progressively improved through the year and the final quarter presents a challenging comparison.
“This pattern makes estimating second half sales particularly difficult so our guidance for the next six months is for growth of between 4% and 10%.”
At the start of the year the retailer forecast it would generate around £325m of surplus cash to return to shareholders through special dividends and share buybacks.
Special dividends of 50p per share were paid out in February and May, and a third is now being paid this week.