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Next raises FY profit outlook again as H1 sales beat expectations



British fashion retailer Next has raised its full-year profit guidance again after posting better-than-expected full-price sales in the first half of the year.

The high street giant now expects a full-year pre-tax profit of 875 million pounds compared to its previous guidance of 845 million pounds. It would represent a year-on-year increase of 0.5 percent.

The company said it expects to benefit from an exceptional gain of around 110 million pounds as a result of the accounting gain generated by its Reiss transaction.

This is the third time the company has increased its profit outlook in four months.

The raised guidance comes as Next saw its pre-tax profit widen to 420 million pounds from 401 million pounds in the six months to July, while its post-tax profit narrowed to 322 million pounds from 329 million pounds.

H1 sales ahead of expectations

The retailer’s sales in the period increased 5.4 percent to 2.64 billion pounds, while brand full-price sales, which it expected to be down 3 percent, rose 3.2 percent.

Chief executive Lord Wolfson said: “In reality, we were overly cautious about the prospects for sales in the current year, we underestimated the support nominal wage increases, and a robust employment market, would give to our top line.

“We also believe the exceptionally warm weather in late May and June served to significantly boost sales of our summer clothing at a critical time (a factor we need to bear in mind when it comes to our forecast for next year).”

Next now expects full-price sales in the second half to be up 2 percent on the prior year, compared to its previous guidance of up 0.5 percent.

Accordingly, it now expects full-year sales growth of 2.6 percent compared to previous guidance of 1.8 percent.

It noted: “Some might believe this is Next being (typically) over-cautious, given we delivered +3.2 percent in the first half.”

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Pinterest announces trend predictions for 2024



As the latest trends seem to move a million miles per minute, Pinterest stays ahead of the curve—the lifestyle tech company just revealed its predictions for 2024 trends across beauty, fashion, and more.

Based on an analysis of various search algorithms generated by visitors on the platform, Pinterest’s near-500 million users provide insights on what is currently garnering mass interest, and what will soon be on the radar across multi-generational consumers prior to its rise.

And the platform has seldom been wrong. Among the highlighted trends forecasted for 2023 was the rise of ultra-femininity in fashion, which has since manifested itself in the whimsical bows, lacy motifs, and airy styles seen across the runways at fashion week and social media trends.

This coming year, the feminine frenzy will continue on with “Bow Stacking.” Thanks to a 190 percent and 180 percent uptick in searches like “Bow outfit” and “Bow necklace,” 2024 will continue the love for the frilly detail—à la popular brands like Sandy Liang—but in unbridled maximalist fashion, adorning the accessory onto hair, shoes, bags, and overall looks.

On the side of masculine fashion, Pinterest noted the emergence of “Eclectic Grandpa” in 2024 chiefly among Gen Z and boomers, who will “embrace grandpacore and bring eccentric and expressive elements for the ages to their wardrobes,” per the report. Encompassing retro staples and layered cardigans in ‘70s-esque hues, this nostalgic style was increasingly explored by 130 percent.

An appreciation for all things vintage also makes its way into upcycling trends, showing a desire in consumers to get crafty and explore not just secondhand clothing, but second hand materials for themselves. Similar to the DIY fad of the 2010s, “Give a Scrap” looks to be the upcoming fashion project for boomers and Gen Xers alike. With searches like “zero waste sewing patterns” and “leftover fabric” both up 80 percent, consumers are gravitating toward habits that drive sustainability in their personal approach to fashion.

Between metal-toned jewellery and avant-garde fashion, metallic colours and creations are slated to be a highly sought-after material in 2024. “Metallics will make their way into the mainstream in 2024 as Gen Z and Millennials trade in their neutrals for something a bit more hardcore,” wrote Pinterest in the report. Popular pursuits like “metal corset” and “silver necklaces layered” indicate growing interest in metal hardware, but the textured shades are also being explored in aluminium furniture and metallic nail art.

The “Make it Big” trend also further bolsters the growth of metals, as shoppers are looking toward bolder, chunkier silhouettes in accessories and hairstyles alike, suggested by the prevalence of inquiries like “chunky hoops” and “sculptural jewellery.”

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AI-driven shopping app Yaysay secures $10.3m in funding



Yaysay, a shopping app utilising artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a personalised gamified experience, has secured 10.3 million dollars in funding in order to launch its Beta mode into the market.

The app, co-founded by industry veterans from Casper, Gilt Groupe and Stitch Fix, aims to make off-price shopping a “five-minute daily habit”, offering a “sustainable solution for excess inventory in the retail industry”.

Using AI, the platform provides users with a personalised fashion feed that draws inspiration from social media and other apps while blending the concept of competition and gaming into one shopping experience.

Each day, the feed will refresh its offering of discounts on sought-after brands, such as Chloé, Acne Studios, Gannie and Loewe, in a design aiming to act as a new treasure hunt while also “breathing new life into overstock inventory”.

In a release, Yaysay CEO, Lindsay Ferstandig, the former CEO of Stitch Fix, said: “While mobile shopping is convenient, it is generally uninspiring for brands and consumers alike. With Yaysay, we are creating an elevated brand experience that brings the joy back to shopping, transforming deals from the most covetable brands into addictive bites of fun.”

The Beta version of Yaysay is now live and comes alongside a waitlist which will allow consumers to gain an early glimpse into the platform within the coming weeks.

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Pepco issues ‘downward revision’ to forecast reorganises management



European retail chain Pepco is continuing to experience a downward trend in its financials, as revenues for August came in lower than anticipated and are worsening in September, with negative like-for-like sales and weaker than expected performance from new stores.

The group, which operates UK-based Poundland, has been attempting to initiate an expansion strategy in the region, with plans to open a slew of refreshed stores and grow its fashion business, among other categories.

However, it appears that such efforts have not been enough to avoid the slower rate of sales in its core markets of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), with gross margins also not bringing in the recovery expected and record warm weather dampening the demand for its autumn/winter collections.

As a result, Pepco said it made a “further downward revision” to its full year 2023 forecast, while also now forecasting to deliver underlying EBITDA of around 750 million euros.

The group has also taken “immediate and decisive” actions to shuffle its management team in light of the underperformance and the recent departure of its outgoing CEO.

Strategic review adopted to address costs Anand Patel, the managing director of the Pepco business, will step down immediately and will be replaced by managing director of Poundland, Barry Williams. Meanwhile, chief operating officer of Poundland, Austin Cooke, will step into the role of managing director for the retailer.

A group executive committee has also been formed in order to establish a strategy review across the group to address costs and initiatives that could generate “appropriate returns in the near term” and accelerate transformation.

In a release, executive chairman Andy Bondy said: “We remain confident in the opportunity of building Europe’s leading variety discount retailer offering great value to consumers across a range of FMCG, clothing and general merchandise products.

“However, it is clear that we need to refocus on delivering for our customers in our core business while delivering more measured growth. We need to improve profitability and cash generation in our established business alongside a more targeted growth plan in markets where we have an existing presence.”

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