Leading fashion chain Next Plc on Thursday announced a 24 per cent surge in first half pre-tax profit to £115.8 million from £93m in the year-ago period. The country's third biggest apparel retailer with more than 300 stores said its sees a strong second half as same-store sales in the first six weeks since the first half are up 5.7 per cent and total sales up 14.7 per cent.