Fashion retailer Next Plc today (6 May) reported report better-than-expected first quarter sales, helped by warm weather and a late Easter.

But the company, the UK's second largest clothing retailer by sales value, warned that the second quarter is likely to be weaker than the first.

In the 14 weeks to 2 May, the clothing firm said like-for-like retail store sales fell just 2.3% - beating its estimates of a drop of between 6% and 9% in the first half.

Total retail sales, which includes new store openings, rose 1.1%, while sales at the Next Director mail order and internet arm were up 1.6%.

Next said the results were helped by a later Easter, warm weather which boosted sales of summer clothing, and fewer people travelling overseas during the Easter holiday as a result of the weakness of sterling.

But it said: "We expect the second quarter will be weaker than the first as comparative figures are more challenging."

The retailer said it has added GBP15m to its internal profit forecasts following the strong sales results, as well as raising its outlook.

Next Retail like-for-like sales in the first half are now forecast to be down by 4% to 7%, and Next Directory sales are seen as flat.

These estimates do not factor in any effects of a possible flu pandemic, though.