FASHION chain Next revealed snows before Christmas cost it £22m in lost sales – but said it was still on track to grow its profits this year.
The Arctic weather that kept shoppers at home knocked some 2.2% from retail sales in the period between August and Christmas Eve and contributed to a worse than predicted 6.1% fall in like-for-like sales.
Even so, the chain attracted huge crowds to its sales in Huddersfield.
But the sales lost to the snowfall were partly offset by an 8.7% rise in the retailer’s online and telephone business, Next Directory, which helped lift overall sales by 0.2%.
Directory initially received a boost from the snow, but its orders slumped nearer to Christmas amid fears the snow would delay deliveries.
Next, which has stores at Kingsgate and the Great Northern Retail Park in Huddersfield, forecast pre-tax profits of between £540m and £555m in the year to January, an increase of 7% to 10% on the previous year and in line with market expectations.
Chief executive Simon Wolfson said sales after Christmas got off to a strong start, helped by the improved weather.
The retailer expects its prices to rise by about 8% this year due to soaring cotton prices and the increase in VAT.