LONDON--U.K. clothing retailer Next PLC (>> NEXT plc) raised its full-year pretax profit forecast and announced a special dividend of 50 pence per share after strong online deliveries boosted its sales in the Christmas period.
Next, which has more than 500 stores in Britain and Ireland and nearly 200 in other countries, now expects to report a full-year pretax profit of between 684 million pounds ($1.13 billion) and GBP700 million, compared with its previous forecast of GBP650 million to GBP680 million.
"The step-up in Christmas trade was mainly down to improvements in our seasonal knitwear, nightwear and gift offer," Next said.
"In addition, increased confidence in online deliveries meant that more customers continued to trade with NEXT Directory right up to the weekend before Christmas."
Next benefited from its decision not to engage in heavy discounting before Christmas day unlike other retailers. Department store group Debenhams PLC (>> Debenhams Plc) earlier this week issued a profit warning after coping with "an unprecedented level of promotional activity" by competitors in the run-up to Christmas.
Shares closed Thursday at 5,530 pence, valuing the company at GBP8.57 billion.
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