- Retailer Next saw a 2.7% increase in pre-tax profit in the first six months of the year as strong online sales offset the continued slump in retail and left its full-year guidance unchanged.

Pre-tax profit climbed to £319.6m from £311.1m a year earlier.

Online sales climbed 12.6% to £1004.9m while retail sales dropped 5.5% to £874.3m.

Full-price sales rose 4.3%, with online full-price sales gaining 11.9%, largely due to the company's Label unit, which sells third-party brands.

Meanwhile, total brand total sales (including sales markdowns) climbed 3.8% on last year to £2013.2m.

However, in-store sales continued to suffer with total sales dropping 5.5% to £874.3m.

The company said it would pay an ordinary dividend of 57.5p, up 4.5% on last year, to be paid on 2 January 2020.

Unchanged from the guidance given in its July trading statement, the company said it continued to expect full-price sales growth to increase 3.6% with group pre-tax profit of around £725m, a 0.3% increase on the previous year.

However, it cautioned that this guidance did not account for the possible positive effects of a Brexit deal or the possible negative impact of no-deal.

It expected the enhancement to EPS from £300m of share buybacks to be an increase of 5.1%. As a result, EPS for the full year was expected to rise by 5.2%.

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