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Laura Ashley celebrates record profits

Fashion-to-furnishings group Laura Ashley has posted record profits and said it is confident about prospects despite the punishing trading environment.

The retailer, which has 217 UK stores, reported group pre-tax profit excluding exceptionals up 91% to £19.3m on sales 6.2% ahead to £285m in the year to January 29.

Laura Ashley made gains in all its main categories during the period. Fashion sales rose 2.6%, or 1.7% on a like-for-like basis.

In the core UK market total retail sales climbed 5.3% to £256.6m and were ahead 5.6% like-for-like.

Laura Ahsley chairman Tan Sri Dr KP Khoo said he was delighted with the performance but that conditions are challenging.

He said: “Since the beginning of February we have seen a decline in our performance which we attribute to a general weakening in the consumer economy.

“We believe that our strong product offer and brand, robust balance sheet and continued operational efficiencies give us a sound base to face the tough outlook ahead.”

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