News Column

Laura Ashley Confident For Remainder Of The Year As Profit Rises

September 4, 2014

Hana Stewart-Smith

LONDON (Alliance News) - Laura Ashley Holdings PLC Friday expressed confidence for the remainder of the year, as it saw profit rise in the 26 weeks to July 26 in what it called an "extremely competitive sector."

The fashion and home furnishings retailer maintained its interim dividend at 1.00 pence per share.

The company posted a pretax profit of GBP8.5 million, up from GBP7.4 million in the previous year, as revenue rose to GBP144.0 million from GBP137.3 million. Total UK retail sales up were 3.8% to GBP124.6 million from GBP120.0 million, with e-commerce sales up 6.1%.

As at July 26 the company's property portfolio in the UK was 208 stores; during the period two new stores were opened and three were closed.

Furniture sales were down 2.2%. Despite the weaker showing from this segment, the company said it was encouraged by the performance of new products that were introduced this season. It has also launched new ranges in the second half, which it said will add variety to its collections and encourage sales.

Home accessories sales were up 2.9%, driven by strong performances from lighting products and its gifts and accessories ranges.

Decorating sales were up 0.8%, with the best performing products being ready-made curtains and its paint ranges.

Fashion sales declined 2.6%. Laura Ashley said it was encouraged by the success of many of its ranges, and expressed optimism that this success would continue in coming seasons as it improves the design and quality of its products.

Its international business saw growth of 14%, the company said, as it opened new stores in Japan, Australia, South Korea and Russia.

Laura Ashley launched its second hotel at the end of July, The Belsfield, in Windermere. The company said that customer, social and press response to the new Lake District hotel has been "extremely favourable."

In the five weeks to August 30, Laura Ashley said its trading was up 8% on a like-for-like basis.

"We will continue to develop our international presence as well as focusing on our UK retail business with continued enhancement of our website, for both our domestic and international customers, and improvements to our store portfolio," said Chairman Khoo Kay Peng in a statement.

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Source: Alliance News

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