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Laura Ashley increases profits by 14%

Womenswear and furniture retailer Laura Ashley has reported that group sales increased by 3.1% to £303.6m and profit before tax increased by 14.6% to £23.5m for the year to January 31.

Retail like-for-like sales were up by 1.3% and online sales grew by 8.6% during the year.

Fashion makes up approximately 17% of the business and sales were broadly stable on a like-for-like basis during the year, according to chief financial officer Seán Anglim.

Of the group’s 205 owned stores in the UK, Ireland and France, 30% of the square footage is dedicated to fashion products. The group has 303 international franchise stores, in which 60% of the floor space is given to fashion sales.

Laura Ashley increased its international franchise store count by 17 stores last year and its biggest market is Japan, where it has 120 stores. It has 46 stores in Australia, 20 in Greece, 17 in Spain and 16 in South Korea.

“We are committed to developing and growing the international franchise, licensing and online business, as well as focusing on giving a high-quality, multi-channel experience to our domestic and international customers,” said Laura Ashley chairman Khoo Kay Peng.

The company said current trading shows like-for-like sales growth of 3%.

Nick Kaloyirou, joint chief operating officer, said: “We are really excited about our summer fashion ranges this year, with some great prints that build on what Laura Ashley is known for. Our accessories business has been growing recently and we’ve been doing really well with handbags, scarves and other accessories.”

@Tara_Hounslea

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