British clothing retailer Next has revised its full-year profit forecast upward once again, marking the third such adjustment in the past four months. Despite posting a solid 4.8% increase in profits during the first half of the year, the company has sounded a note of caution, citing potential challenges stemming from a softening labour market in the upcoming financial year.
British Consumers Remain Resilient
In the face of high inflation and rising borrowing costs in 2023, British consumers have managed to sustain their spending habits. A prominent retail player operating both in physical stores and online, often serves as a barometer for the financial well-being of British consumers.
Inflationary Pressures are easing.
Next anticipates a gradual easing of inflationary pressures affecting both selling prices and operating costs during the 2024–25 fiscal year. While this is a positive development for the company, it is not without its challenges.
Softening the Labour Market and Its Implications
However, Next has raised concerns about the softening labour market. While this could alleviate pressure on wage inflation, it may simultaneously act as a dampener on consumer demand for the 2024–25 financial year.
Revised Profit Projections
For the full year ending in January 2024, Next has revised its pre-tax profit projection to £875 million ($1.08 billion), up from the previously anticipated £845 million and the £870.4 million it reported in the preceding year. Additionally, the company has upgraded its guidance for full-price sales growth from 1.8% to 2.6%.
Strong Performance Despite Industry Trends
Despite industry data indicating a slowdown in consumer spending in the past month, Next’s competitors, including Marks & Spencer and AB Foods (owner of Primark), have also raised their profit forecasts in recent weeks. Next is consistently regarded as one of the best-managed retailers in the country, with its shares demonstrating a remarkable 22% increase in value throughout the year.
Looking Forward to 2024/25
Next is optimistic about the 2024–25 fiscal year, citing a decrease in the inflation of purchased products and less severe cost fluctuations in areas such as electricity.
($1 = 0.8120 pounds)