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Laura Ashley like-for-likes collapse

Laura Ashley reported like-for-like sales down 10.8% for the 19 weeks from July 28 but said full year profit would be in line with market expectations.

Total retail sales for the period were up 3.1% driven by an increase in selling space, including the opening of 26 Laura Ashley stores in the UK.

Laura Ashley said that like-for-like sales had been impacted by difficult trading and new store openings. However it said that margin rates were up two percentage points over the period.

Internet sales rose 26% over the period but this offset a decline in mail order sales of 17%. Total sales across the direct channel fell by £300,000.

Laura Ashley said in a statement, "Although trading conditions remain challenging, we expect profit before tax for the financial year ending 26 January 2008 to be broadly in line with the consensus of brokers' forecasts. We will continue our focus on store expansion and realignment, improved product offering and increased operational efficiency."

Laura Ashley launched its Christmas Sale yesterday with discounts of up to 50%. It is also offering shoppers double loyalty points this weekend.

Laura Ashley also surprised the market when it bought a 4% stake in Moss Bros earlier this week.

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