Laura Ashley, the colourful fashion and homeware retailer, saw its first half year profits rise 13.7 per cent to 8.3 million pounds as the company diversified its product offer and focused on a multi-channel strategy. Total UK retail sales rose just over
six per cent to 127.5 million pounds over the period to July 28, while total group sales increased by 7.5 per cent to 145.4 million pounds. UK like-for-like sales increased by 3.9 per cent and e-commerce revenues leaped 21.4 per cent to 20.4 million pounds.
Ashley currently operates 211 stores in the UK and a further 263 franchised stores across 29 territories. The company opened and closed one store in the UK over the period, with further openings in Russia, Japan, Taiwan and Australia. Laura Ashley also launched a smartphone website over the period, with a free app for Apple and Android users.
Laura Ashley chairman Tan Sri Dr K P Khoo, said: “Our multichannel and international strategies have continued to develop, increase and add significant value to our business, wth the website now including extra functionality that has significantly enhanced our customer shopping experience.”
The retailer said that sales momentum has been maintained into the second half. UK like-for-likes rose 4.2 per cent in the 32 weeks to September 8. Despite being “mindful” of the broader consumer environment, Laura Ashley expects progress could be maintained.
Laura Ashley, a Welsh designer, launched the business in the 1950s as designing furnishings. She later expanded into clothing design and manufacture in the 1960s. The Laura Ashley style is characterised by Romantic English design, often with a 19th-century rural feel, and the use of natural fabrics.
Image: Laura Ashley