- Clothing retailer Next swung to a first-half profit and upgraded its annual guidance as its sales come roaring back following a subsidence of lockdowns.

Pre-tax profit for the six months through July amounted to £346.7 million, compared to a year-on-year loss of £16.5 million, as revenue jumped 59% to £1.33 billion.

Compared to the same period in 2019, pre-tax profit was up 5.9% on a 5.2% increase in sales.

Next said it now expected a pre-tax profit for the full year of £800 million, up 6.9% versus 2019 and £36 million ahead of its previous guidance.

On dividends, the company had declared a special payout in July of 110p per share.

'The company remains committed to its long-term policy of returning surplus cash, that cannot be profitably invested in the business, to shareholders,' it said on Wednesday.

'It is our intention to distribute any remaining surplus cash generated this year as a second special dividend at the end of January 2022.'

Any further dividends would be announced in Christmas trading statement on 6 January.

Next said it was planning to return to ordinary dividends in the year to January 2023.

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