British Queen celebrates


Next, the FTSE100 high street giant, has announced plans to shutter 11 more stores this year, delivering another significant blow to the struggling High Street. This move

comes in the wake of challenging conditions for retailers in the UK, with numerous major chains announcing closures across the country.

Out of the 11 stores to be closed, six are being shut down because Next anticipates they will be unable to achieve their target margins. Two others are closing due to site redevelopment, while the remaining three are shutting down due to failed agreements with landlords. The specific store locations have not yet been disclosed.

This decision follows the closure of Next's store in Westfield Stratford City earlier this year, reflecting the wider difficulties faced by high street retailers in the current economic climate.

The UK retail market has experienced a series of setbacks, with major chains struggling to maintain profitability and competitiveness. Recently, Wilko entered administration, and despite rescue talks, over 400 stores are set to close, putting 12,500 jobs at risk.

Despite these challenges, Next's trading update for the year to date showed positive results. Sales across its portfolio increased by 5.4% in the six months leading up to July 2023 compared to the previous year, with pre-tax profits of £420 million. The company now anticipates reporting full-year profits of £875 million before tax, revised up from the previous estimate of £845 million.

Several factors have contributed to Next's strong performance, including favorable weather conditions and rising wages. Sales in May and June 2023 grew by 7.5% and 10%, respectively, compared to the same period in 2022.

Despite the decision to close 11 "mainline" stores, Next has also opened five new "clearance" outlet stores in recent months to sell excess stock. Additionally, the company has been acquiring iconic British brands, such as Cath Kidston, which fell into administration earlier this year, in an effort to attract new customers. Next has also expanded its portfolio by purchasing furniture brand, baby product retailer JoJo Maman Bebe, and majority stakes in the UK operations of US clothing firm Gap and lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret.

Next's ability to navigate the challenging retail landscape and deliver strong financial results demonstrates its resilience and adaptability in the face of changing consumer preferences and market dynamics. Despite the broader difficulties facing the High Street, Next remains committed to its strategic growth and expansion plans.

Shares in Next closed up 3.34% at the end of the trading day, reflecting investor confidence in the company's ability to weather the challenges of the retail sector. Photo by GDFL, Wikimedia commons.