Key performance indicators

KPI's of earnings per share, group cash flows and divisional revenues and profits are detailed in the Chief Executive's Review and elsewhere in this Annual Report. Details of other key performance indicators used in the management of the business are provided below:

NEXT Retail selling space20142013Annual change
Store numbers541540+1
Square feet 000's7,0086,728+4.2%

Selling space is defined as the trading floor area of a store which excludes stockroom and administration areas.

NEXT Retail stores and salesNo. storesLFL
Sales %
No. storesLFL
Sales %
Total like for like535–1.8%530– 3.8%
Underlying498–1.4%473– 3.2%

NEXT defines like for like stores as those that have traded for at least one full year and have not benefited from significant capital expenditure. Sales from these stores for the current year are then compared with the same period in the previous year to calculate like for like sales figures. Underlying like for like sales applies the same calculation but excludes stores impacted by new store openings.

NEXT Retail operating margin movement20142013
Net operating margin last year15.1%14.8%
Increase in achieved gross margin+1.3%+0.6%
Decrease/increase in store payroll+ 0.1%–0.1%
Increase in store occupancy– 0.7%–0.4%
Increase/decrease in other costs– 0.2%+0.2%
Net operating margin this year15.6%15.1%

Gross margin is the difference between the cost of stock and the initial selling price; achieved gross margin is after markdown and stock related costs. Net operating margin is profit after deducting markdowns and all direct and indirect trading costs. All are expressed as a percentage of achieved VAT exclusive sales.

NEXT Directory customers20142013Annual change
Average active customers – credit2,798,0002,697,000+3.7%
Average active customers – cash901,000641,000+40.6%
Average active customers – total3,699,0003,338,000+10.8%
Average sales per customer£363£357+1.7%

Active customers are defined as those who have placed an order or made a payment in the last 20 weeks, calculated as a weighted average of each week's figure. Credit customers are those who order using a Directory credit account, whereas cash customers are those who pay when ordering. Average sales per customer are calculated as VAT exclusive sales, including service charge, divided by the average number of active customers.

NEXT Directory operating margin movement20142013
Net operating margin last year25.3%24.1%
Increase in achieved gross margin+ 2.2%+0.8%
Decrease in bad debt+ 0.1%+0.3%
Decrease/increase in service charge income– 0.5%+0.2%
Increase in other costs– 0.4%–0.1%
Net operating margin this year26.7%25.3%
Share buybacks20142013
Number of shares purchased ('000)6,2027,510
% of opening share capital3.8%4.5%
Total cost£295.8m£241.3m
Average cost per share£47.70£32.13

Total cost of shares purchased includes stamp duty and associated costs. The average price before costs was £47.40 (2013: £31.92).