As per a press release, total group sales rose 3 per cent from a fiscal ago period to £4.1 billion, while sales at Next Directory, its online and catalogue business, increased 8 per cent and Next Retail by 1 per cent.
Following the good results declared by the fashion retailer, it proposes to increase its total full fiscal ordinary dividend by 5 per cent to 158 pence.
According to Next, its share price remained above its declared share buyback price limit for much of the fiscal.
“Cash flow remained strong and we returned £568 million to shareholders through a combination of ordinary dividends amounting to £227 million and £341 million in special dividends,” it said.
“In January the share price fell and we restarted our buyback programme, returning a further £151 million,” the retailer added.
Next continued to invest in the business by spending £151 million on new stores, a new warehouse and systems.
Net trading space increased by 275,000 square feet to 7.6 million square feet, while store numbers remained the same, with increase from new stores being offset by the closure of smaller, less profitable stores.
“Profitability of stores opened or extended in the last 12 months is forecast to average 18 per cent and payback on the net capital invested is expected to be 22 months,” Next explained.
“Both figures meet company investment hurdles of 15 per cent store profitability and 24 months capital payback,” it observed.
In addition, it changed the credit terms for its Directory customers, which increased Directory debtors by some £215 million.
“As a result, net debt increased to £850 million, but well within our bond and bank facilities of £1.3 billion,” the company noted.
David Keens and Jonathan Dawson left the board at the beginning of the fiscal and Amanda James joined the board as David's replacement as group finance director.
“The strength of the Group is built on the hard work and productivity of all the people who work for Next and I would like to thank them all for their contribution throughout the year,” Next's chairman said.
The fashion retailer forecast 2016 to be a challenging year with much uncertainty in the global economy.
“For Next, it is particularly important that we remain focussed on delivering long term EPS growth, investing in the business, improving the design and quality of our products and returning surplus cash,” the company stated.
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