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Laura Ashley's profits and sales dip

Laura Ashley’s profit before tax and exceptional items were down 9.6% to £20.7m for the year to January 30, as total group sales fell 4.6% to £289.5m.

Laura Ashley

The womenswear and furniture retailer said this was partly because 2015 was a 53-week reporting period, compared with this year’s 52 weeks, but added that its international operations faced “continued challenging trading conditions”.

Like-for-like retail sales were up 4.8% year on year, while online revenue increased by 5.3% to £51.1m.

Group profit before tax, including exceptional items, fell by 17.4% to £19.4m. The business incurred an exceptional charge of £1.3m after its licence partner in Australia was placed into voluntary administration.

Fashion sales fell by 4%, but like for like sales were up 2.6%.

The company said: “We are pleased that we have been able to maintain like-for-like growth over the whole year in what has been our most challenging product category.

“A continued focus on quality, design and print will ensure that this is maintained. Additionally, we plan to broaden exposure of our fashion ranges as we forge new partnerships with other retailers.”

Laura Ashley chairman Khoo Kay Peng said: “I am pleased with the performance and the underlying strength of our core UK business, where healthy like-for-like sales growth, across all product categories, has been achieved for another year.

“Our online channel has continued to advance with like-for-like growth of 14.5%, a reflection of our enhanced digital platform and improved home delivery service.

“We will continue to work with our overseas partners following a challenging year for our international business. The acquisition of our Asian headquarters in Singapore signals our commitment to the overseas business channel. Our plans for continued international growth remain central to our strategy as a worldwide brand.

“We remain optimistic for the future and are confident that the strength of the brand and the enduring appeal of our product ranges mean we are well positioned for continued growth.”



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