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Next expects 'toughest year since 2008' despite profit rise

Next has warned that 2016 could be the 'toughest' since the recession. Credit: Paul Faith / PA Wire/PA Images

Retailer Next has warned that 2016 could be the "toughest" year since the financial crisis.

The high street giant posted a 5% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £821.3 million for the year to the end of January.

The group had already warned over results in January after a difficult Christmas due to unusually warm weather.

Next said it was bracing itself for a slowdown in the global economy and for profits to fall by up to 4.5% in a year that "may well be the toughest we have faced since 2008".

It looks as though we may be set for a challenging year, with economic and cyclical factors potentially working against us...

There's going to be a consumer slowdown this year, but we're not going as far as predicting a recession.

– Chief Executive, Lord Wolfson

Following the warning, shares in the group fell to their lowest level for more than two years - down as much as 10%, marking the first time shares have traded below £60 since January 2014.