British clothing retailer Next has recorded a 9% rise in profit, driven by growth at its Directory internet and catalogue business.

However the firm, which has 30 stories in Ireland, said its new year had got off to a quiet start - at the bottom of its 1-4% growth guidance for the 2013-14 year.

Next made an underlying pretax profit of £621.6 million (€727 million) in the year to end January 2013.

That compares to its own guidance of £611-625 million, analysts' consensus forecast of £620 million, and £570.3 million made in the previous year.

Earnings per share rose 16.6% to 297.7 pence, partly reflecting a £241 million share buyback.