On Next, Stephen Springham, Senior Retail Analyst, Planet Retail, commented:
“Next’s Q3 trading performance is a testament to the underlying strength of the business. The autumn season to date has undoubtedly been very testing for the UK fashion sector as a whole. There is always an element of crying wolf when clothing retailers point to the weather as an excuse for poor performance, but September’s Indian summer came at the worst possible time for anyone trying to peddle warmer outerwear to shoppers, while October only offered limited respite.
“Next had already advised that sales had been slower than anticipated. Nevertheless, 5-6% growth would be highly creditable against the wider market backdrop. As ever, the growth figures for Next Directory (the e-commerce arm) will eclipse those of Next Retail (the high street business). But it would be wrong to read too much into this.
“Next remains one of the UK’s best exponents of multi-channel retailing, with the stores dovetailing seamlessly with the online business. As such, it is almost nebulous to strip out two businesses as individual entities. Without the engine room the stores provide, Next Directory simply would not perform nearly as effectively as it does, particularly in terms of fulfilment. While others talk the omni-channel talk, Next actually walks the omni-channel walk.
“After a sluggish opening to the season, there is still much ground for UK fashion retailers to make up. A nervous few weeks is in prospect during the run-up to the festive period, with most doubtless praying for more traditionally seasonal weather patterns. For many, the temptation will be to hit the promotions panic button or even to launch sales in a desperate bid to stimulate traffic. Next will once again be the exception, holding off on any markdowns until after Christmas. A brave stance, given the slow start to seasonal trading. But fortune often favours the brave. As well as the operationally excellent.”
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Stephen is available for further comment and can be contacted on +44 (0)20 7715 6464 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robyn Ashman, Global Marketing Director
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7715 6021; E-mail: Robyn.Ashman@Planetretail.net