Next (NXT.L) shares hit an all-time high on Wednesday after raising their earnings forecast for the fourth time this year.
The fashion retailer, seen as an indicator of Britain’s main street, has revealed a boom in commerce after COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were eased.
He now expects a pre-tax annual profit of £ 800million (£ 1.1bn), which is £ 36million above his previous forecast of £ 764million and more. high level since 2016.
First half profit before tax rose 5.9% to £ 347million, compared to the same period a year earlier.
Full-price sales are up 8.8% from two years ago and are up a fifth in the past two months.
The clothing chain said sales in retail stores had “done better than expected,” while online sales declined less than expected.
However, Next has warned that some of its operations are starting to come under pressure and warehousing and logistics staff could suffer as Christmas approaches.
Lord Simon Wolfson, managing director and prominent Brexit supporter, called on the UK government to take action and called for a relaxation of immigration rules for workers.
“We anticipate that without some relaxation of immigration rules, we may experience some degradation in our service as Christmas approaches,” he said.
“For the sake of the wider UK economy, we hope the government will take a more decisive approach to the looming skills crisis in warehouses, restaurants, hotels, nursing homes and many seasonal industries. “
Read more: Inflationary fears: UK supply chain cost pressures spill over to prices
Rising freight costs had already pushed prices up by about 2% in the six months to July, the company said. He warned that this would continue into next year, with prices expected to rise about 2.5% in the first half of next year.
“It looks like the wider economy hasn’t suffered the long-term damage many feared, at least for now,” Next said in its update. “And, in particular, Jobs held up well.”
“The positive sales trend continued through August through the second half of the year, despite significant stockouts caused by the disruption of COVID in international supply chains. “
Shares climbed to 4% after the opening.
“Inevitably, Next strives to highlight that challenges remain. The longer-term question of whether the increase in pandemic online sales is here to stay is still unknown, ”said Richard Hunter, Head of Markets at Interactive Investor.
“The broader issue of cost inflation could also impact margins, as the group also experiences challenges with supply chain bottlenecks in terms of inventory, with staff shortages up to high season also a possibility. “
He added: “Next is a well-managed vessel that is able to respond to a fluid business environment, both in terms of changing fashion trends and financial challenges. The company is not only surpassing pre-pandemic bargaining levels, but has also demonstrated that the actions it has taken in the interim leave it in a good position to benefit from the new environment. “
Watch: Next urges government to take ‘more decisive’ approach as workers’ crisis threatens Christmas deliveries