The boss of Next was hit in the pocket in 2005 after sales at the clothing retailer declined during one of the worst years for spending on the high street.

The annual report of Next today showed that Simon Wolfson picked up £777,000 in wages and bonuses for last year - or 19 per cent lower than his pay deal for 2004.

Mr Wolfson saw his annual bonus halved to £179,000 after Next was unable to repeat its success in growing earnings per share as significantly for investors, although his annual salary was broadly the same at £569,000.

It follows a difficult year for Next with like-for-like sales falling by 2.9 per cent as shoppers kept their wallets and purses in their pockets.

The company also had to compete with a rejuvenated Marks & Spencer which earlier this week posted its best quarterly sales performance in three years.

However, annual profits at Next rose by six per cent to £449.1 million due to cost cuts, new store openings, improved sourcing and the success of the end of season summer sale.

The report showed that Mr Wolfson will collect shares worth £710,000 after the company ranked between third and fourth in terms of total shareholder return against 21 of its retail peers over the past three years.

Next has 439 stores and plans to open more this year in spite of the tough operating environment. ..SUPL: