Laura Ashley is to open its first fashion concessions in one of the UK’s biggest department store groups - which is yet to be named - later this spring.
Sean Anglim, chief financial officer, told Drapers: “We are working with a potential partner to open concessions very shortly. Like a lot of big retailers our store portfolio has shrunk over the last few years or we have relocated to retail parks so we need to give fashion more exposure on the high street.”
Anglim said the business will start with two or three concessions and, if successful, roll the format out to further branches.
He added that fashion was Laura Ashley’s “most challenging product category” but the firm has focused on classic pieces to drive sales.
The womenswear and lifestyle retailer reported a 4% drop in fashion sales but a 2.6% increase in like-for-like clothing sales for the year to January 20.
Anglim said: “Fashion in general, I think most retailers would agree, has become increasingly competitive as there are so many new entrants, particularly online only retailers, so the market has been challenging. We saw most growth in the second half because we focused on what we are good at. We got the quality right and we focused on more classic pieces that people associate with Laura Ashley.”
Laura Ashley’s profit before tax and exceptional items was down 9.6% to £20.7m for the year, as total group sales fell 4.6% to £289.5m.