BUSINESS CLOSE: Next warns on weakened outlook; Lloyd’s of London returns to profit; hospitality jobs at risk from VAT increases
The FTSE 100 index closed up 0.09 per cent or 6.75 points to 7,467.38 this afternoon.
Next saw annual profits rise 10 per cent on the previous year in 2021, but the clothing retailer has trimmed its sales and profit guidance for 2022 with an improved outlook for the UK offset by a deteriorating picture overseas.
The firm made a pre-tax profit of £823million in the year to January – in line with guidance – and it now expects full price sales growth of 5 per cent in 2022, down from previous guidance of 7 per cent.
Lloyd’s of London returned to profitability in 2021 as the insurance marketplace saw booming underwriting revenues, while benefiting from ‘favourable trading conditions’.
It posted an overall profit of £2.3billion for the year, up from a £900million loss in 2020, and a combined ratio – the measure of money flowing out of an insurance company in the form of dividends, expenses, and losses – of 93.5 per cent, its best quality result for seven years.
Hospitality leaders warn thousands of jobs could be lost after the Chancellor ‘missed an opportunity’ to halt VAT increases.
Bosses in the sector, and the retail industry, criticised Rishi Sunak for a lack of business rates support for firms hit by soaring costs.
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For the year ending January 2023, Next now forecasts full price sales growth of 5 per cent and a pre-tax profit of £850million, versus previous guidance of sales up 7 per cent and profit of £860million