Next today posted third-quarter sales in line with guidance and edged up its full year sales and profit forecasts, despite a warning that consumer demand remained volatile. 

Next trades from more than 500 shops in Britain and Ireland, about 200 mainly franchised stores overseas and its Directory catalogue and internet business.

It said today that its full-price sales rose 6% in the quarter to October 24. That outcome is just above the mid-point of its second-half guidance range of up 3.5-7.5% and compares to first half growth of 3.5%. 

Full price sales at Next's stores rose 5.9%, while they rose by 6.2% at its Directory business. 

The company said that trade in September was strong while October was relatively subdued. 

Next has outperformed peers, including market leader Marks & Spencer, for a decade due to a strong online business, rapid expansion at home and abroad and diversification into new product areas, such as homewares.

It forecast a 2015-16 pretax profit of £810-845m after previously forecasting a pretax profit of £805-845m. 

Full-year sales growth was forecast at up 4-6% - previously it was 3.5-6%. 

The firm has a well-established policy of returning surplus cash to shareholders through share buybacks or special dividends. As announced in its July update it will pay a special dividend of 60 pence per share on November 2.