Next revealed this morning that it had a tough Christmas period

Next is the first retailer to report Christmas trading figures this year. Like-for-like sales in its 308 stores were down 6.9% from 31 July to 24 December, compared with the previous year. A difficult Christmas period was said to have weighed on the figure.

Sales for Next retail and Next Directory, its catalogue business, were up 2.8%, compared with the same period last year, but the retailer predicted that 2007 would be a challenging year.

Simon Wolfson, chief executive, said it would have to increase profits through good control of stocks, margins and costs.

It will announce its preliminary results for the 52 weeks to 27 January 2007 on Thursday 22 March 2007.