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Laura Ashley plans fashion-only shops

Fashion-to-furnishings retailer Laura Ashley is to open dedicated fashion stores and reintroduce girlswear following strong demand for its kids’ furniture.

Chief executive Lillian Tan said the fashion-only stores would enable the retailer to open in fashion-centric locations where there was not the space to offer the full product mix.

Laura Ashley, which has 225 stores and which generates 21% of sales from fashion, said pre-tax profits excluding exceptionals surged from £100,000 to £5.7m in the 26 weeks to July. It benefited from better exchange rates than last year and ran fewer promotions.

The girlswear range for girls aged two to eight years will be relaunched in late spring after a five-year absence. A standalone kids’ shop will follow.

Turnover at the group rose 5.7% to £135m over the period. The UK arm saw a 5.5% increase in revenue to £121.6m. UK like-for-likes rose 6.2% and fashion like-for-likes grew 1.6%.

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