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* Q1 full-price sales rise 4.5 pct
* Warm Easter boosted demand in stores
* Company leaves full-year forecasts unchanged (Adds CEO comment, analyst reaction, shares)
LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - British clothing chain Next on Wednesday said warm weather over the Easter holiday drove a 4.5 percent rise in full-price first-quarter sales, beating its own forecasts of a 3.2 percent rise.
Next, which trades from more than 500 stores in Britain and Ireland, about 200 stores in 40 other countries and its Directory online business, said full-price sales from stores fell 3.6 percent in the 13 weeks to April 27, while online sales rose 11.8 percent.
"We always expected the first quarter to be good this year because it was hampered a lot by the weather last year, with all those blizzards, and then towards the end we were given a further boost by the very warm Easter," Chief Executive Simon Wolfson told Reuters.
Next said the first-quarter outperformance amounted to about 10 million pounds of sales, a relatively small number in the context of the year and not sufficient to change its outlook.
The group maintained sales and profit guidance for 2019-20 of 1.7 percent full-price sales growth and a 1.1 percent fall in pretax profit to 715 million pounds ($932 million).
Next's shares, which have risen 44 percent since the start of the year, outperforming the FTSE 100 index by 30 percent, were flat in early deals on Wednesday. Analyst at Liberum, who have a "buy" rating on the shares, said sales for the rest of the year would come up against tougher comparisons.
"Today's performance nonetheless speaks to the strength of the group's proposition, and to management's ability to execute a successful total retail strategy that sees its store estate supporting growth in the online business," they said.
Wolfson, a prominent "Leave" supporter and Conservative peer in the upper house of Britain's parliament, said political uncertainty over Brexit was not stopping consumers spending.
"It's a relatively low ticket price sector; we can see no evidence that the political situation is affecting peoples' economic behaviour," he said. "Consumers tend to respond to reality rather than perception." ($1 = 0.7668 pounds) (Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton and Elaine Hardcastle)