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Laura Ashley profit rise driven by strong UK performance

Laura Ashley’s group pre-tax profit climbed 7.8% to £11m in the year to January 30, driven by a strong performance in the UK.

Group revenue increased at the fashion-to-furnishings chain by 3% to £268.4m, aided by a strong performance in the UK, where sales rose 3.6% to £243.6m. UK like-for-likes increased 3.5%.

Fashion like-for-likes increased 9.8%, with total fashion sales up 12.9%, boosted by accessories and new ranges in apparel.

Current trading has continued to show growth, with UK like-for-likes rising 4.6% in the 8 weeks to March 27, due to targeted promotional activity. Revenue in the UK increased 5.6%.

Gross margin declined by 1.8% as a result of the weakness of the sterling, as well as planned promotional activity.

Internet sales increased 30% to £22.1m, and now represent 12% of UK sales.

Laura Ashley trades from 231 stores in the UK, including 137 mixed products stores, which sell both fashion and home.

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