John Barton Chairman of the Board commented :
As anticipated, the year to January 2017 was a challenging year for NEXT, despite this Earnings per share declined by only ‑0.3% to 441.3p. We propose to maintain our total full year ordinary dividend flat at 158p.
Whilst total sales for NEXT Retail declined by -2.9%, sales for NEXT Directory increased by +4.2%. Total Group sales were broadly flat at £4.1bn for the year.
Cash flow remained strong and we returned £502m to shareholders through a combination of ordinary dividends (£226m), special dividends (£88m) and share buybacks (£188m).
We have continued to invest in the business, spending £161m on new stores, warehousing and systems. Net debt increased to £861m, well within our bond and bank facilities of £1.4bn.
Trading conditions in the year ahead will continue to be tough, however I believe that by focusing on our core strengths, as we did during 2008, we will see NEXT emerge from this period stronger than before.
Source : Press Release NEXT plc 23 March 2017