Key Performance Indicators

KPIs of earnings per share, group cash flows and divisional sales, 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 space20152014Annual change
Store numbers539541-2
Square feet 000's7,3737,045+4.7%

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

20152014
NEXT Retail stores and salesNo. storesLFL Sales %No. storesLFL Sales%
Total like for like523+0.7%535-1.8%
Underlying462+1.4%498-1.4%

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 movement20152014
Net operating margin last year15.5%15.0%
Increase in achieved gross margin+0.1%+1.3%
Increase/decrease in store payroll-0.3%+0.1%
Decrease/increase in store occupancy+1.1%-0.7%
Increase in other costs-0.1%-0.2%
Net operating margin this year16.3%15.5%

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 customers (000's)20152014Annual change
Average active customers – credit2,7242,798-2.6%
Average active customers – cash1,39490154.7%
Average active customers – total4,1183,69911.3%

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.

NEXT Directory operating margin movement20152014
Net operating margin last year26.1%24.8%
Decrease/increase in achieved gross margin-0.8%+1.9%
Decrease in bad debt expense+0.3%+0.1%
Decrease in interest income-0.4%-0.6%
Increase in other costs-0.7%-0.1%
Net operating margin this year24.5%26.1%
Share buybacks20152014
Number of shares purchased (000's)2,1586,202
% of opening share capital1.4%3.8%
Total cost£137.9m£295.8m
Average cost per share£63.89£47.70

Total cost of shares purchased includes stamp duty and associated costs. The average price before costs was £63.50 (2014: £47.40).

* Sales includes the full value of commission based sales (as described in Note 1 to the accounts). Prior year figures have been restated.