Next’s profits have risen to £695 million, ahead of what Marks & Spencer is forecast to report this year.
The retailer recorded an 11.8% increase in profit before tax to £695 million from £667 million in the previous financial year.
It is now set to make more money than M&S for the first time since it launched in 1982, with M&S predicted to see underlying annual pre-tax profits fall to around £628m.
Sales grew 5.4% over the year to £3.7 billion this year. Retail sales grew 1.7% to £2.2 billion, while Next Directory sales, which includes online, rose 12.4% to £1.3 billion.
The company said that it plans to push its design teams to adopt new trends in depth and with conviction. “This approach of taking greater fashion risks may sound counter-intuitive but, in today’s fast moving fashion environment, to fall back on "safe" historical ranges would merely guarantee failure. On the whole, our experience is that where we have been braver in buying into new trends, we have been successful,” it said.
The company has also adjusted its buying cycle to reflect the continuing trend for consumers to buy closer to the point at which they need the clothing. “Our aim is to increase the availability of cold weather clothing in January, February and March and warm weather clothing in August and September. Going forward we will move away from a two season buying cycle to a four season cycle and our customers will see a bigger change from spring into summer (in April) and autumn into winter (in October).”