Next annual profit jumps 12 pct

LONDON, March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:14am EDT

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - Next, Britain's second-largest clothing retailer, met guidance with a 11.8 percent rise in year profit driven by growth at its Directory internet and catalogue business.

The firm, which also trades from over 500 stores in Britain and Ireland and almost 200 stores in more than 30 countries overseas, said on Thursday it made a profit before tax of 695.2 million pounds ($1.16 billion) in the year to end-Jan. 2014.

That compares to Next's own guidance of 684-700 million pounds, analysts' consensus forecast of 695 million pounds and 621.6 million pounds made in the 2012-13 year.

Underlying earnings per share rose 23 percent to 366 pence, boosted by share buy-backs and the dividend was increased 23 percent to 129 pence.

The firm forecast sales growth of 4-8 percent in its 2014-15 year, with pretax profit rising to 730-770 million pounds.

($1 = 0.6014 British Pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)