Retailer Next has increased its profit forecast for the past year after posting higher sales than predicted in the last two months of 2019.

The high street fashion business shrugged off the recent malaise affecting retailers to post a 5.2% increase in sales for the period to December 28, which it said was 1.1% ahead of company forecasts.

Next said it believes its sales for the Christmas period were boosted by a “much colder November than last year and improved stock availability” in both retail stores and online.

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Full-price sales for the 11 months to the end of December rose by 3.9% as the retailer also predicted sales growth would surpass previous expectations.

It said it expects sales to continue to be 3.9% higher by the end of the financial year, January 31, up from the previous guidance of 3.6% growth for the year.

Bovis Homes has announced plans to rename itself as Vistry Group after completing the £1.1 billion acquisition of rival Galliford Try’s housebuilding business.

Bovis said it has now completed the deal to buy Linden Homes, after first agreeing the deal in November 2019.

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It said the listed group has been rebranded to cover both the enlarged group’s housebuilding and partnerships businesses.

Greg Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of Bovis Homes, said: “The combination of these businesses with Bovis Homes creates a top-five housebuilder in the UK with the capacity to deliver over 12,000 homes per year in the medium term.

“Within the enlarged business, our commitment to ensuring the highest levels of build quality and customer satisfaction will remain central to everything we do.

“We would like to thank all shareholders for their engagement in this process and look forward to delivering the clear strategic and financial benefits of this combination.”

The home entertainment video sector grew by 9.5% last year to £2.6 billion as musical films led by Bohemian Rhapsody drove sales, figures show.

The biggest video hit of 2019 was the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody with 1.7 million copies sold, the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) said.

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While spending on entertainment overall grew by 2.4% in 2019, spending on video surged driven entirely by the continuing rise of digital, ranging from downloads from Amazon, Apple and Sky Store and increasingly from streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky’s Now TV, separate figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) show.

Two-thirds of the video sales of Bohemian Rhapsody were on physical formats, the ERA said.

Digital video sales grew by 21.5% to £2.11 billion, while physical revenues decreased 22.7% to £500 million.


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