Next starts hunt for new advertising agency

Next, the high-street retailer and catalogue company, has launched a search for an advertising agency.

A representative from Next approached Campaign on Wednesday asking for a list of agencies in advance of a creative review.

The advertising arrangements for the company were previously handled by Maher Bird Associates.

MBA was appointed to work for Next on a project basis in July 2005. It created a summer sale and Christmas TV and radio campaign, but has not produced any work for the company this year.

It is unclear if MBA will participate in the review, which comes as the retailer battles declining profits and sales in its high street business.

Next is facing increased competition on the high street from rivals such as Primark and Marks & Spencer.

First-half results from the high street division showed profits have fallen by 8 per cent to £111 million, with sales dropping by 7.5 per cent.

However, sales from Next's catalogue division, Next Directory, rose by 44 per cent for the same period, with overall company profits rising by 3.6 per cent to £178.9 million.

It has launched a refit of its flagship Oxford Circus branch and estimates sales have risen by 8 per cent as a result.

A spokeswoman for Next denied that the company was looking for an agency.