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|Next expected to defy retail gloom|
|Saturday, 19 March 2011 23:08|
The pain faced by households due to spiralling living costs will be back in the spotlight next week with the release of inflation figures and updates from retail bellwethers including Next, Sainsbury's and B&Q.
Fashion retailer Next is expected to defy the gloom on the high street by revealing strong profits growth in its full-year results on Thursday.
Analysts expect the retailer, which accounts for about 7% of clothes sales in the UK, to report a 9% increase in pre-tax profits to £552.3 million in the year to January, while revenues are expected to be flat at £3.4 billion.
The performance comes despite a difficult period for fashion retailers in which consumer confidence has been hit by rising inflation and job cuts.
The soaring cost of raw materials, rising wages in the Far East and January's hike in VAT to 20% from 17.5% have pushed up the price of clothes at a time when consumers in the UK are looking for value.
B&Q parent company Kingfisher has already set the scene for decent results on Thursday, but the market will also be keen for an update on the final year of a strategy overhaul.
The group said last month it expected a 20% rise in annual profits after strong international growth offset continued tough trading in the UK. It guided towards adjusted pre-tax profits at the top end of City expectations, which ranged from £661 million to £672 million, after strong sales in countries such as Poland and Russia.
Fourth-quarter sales figures from supermarket Sainsbury's will be studied on Wednesday for fall-out from the price war involving its two closest rivals.
Market leader Tesco launched a £200 million price initiative last month in response to Asda's recent acceleration of its price guarantee scheme.
Sainsbury's outperformed its "big four" peers in Christmas trading, but its latest sales figures will reveal whether it has been able to maintain this lead amid pressure on consumer spending.
Press Association Ltd. 2010, All Rights Reserved.
photo by ElWanderer