Laura Ashley Christmas trading below expectations
Like-for-like sales up 5 per cent in second half of 2002
January 8 2003
Fashion and homeware retailer Laura Ashley says its Christmas trading was below expectations despite an increase in group like-for-like sales of 6 per cent in the six weeks to January 4.
The run-up to Christmas saw home furnishing sales increase by 11 per cent while women’s fashion sales were down 2 per cent. Total like-for-like sales in the UK were up 7 per cent, but down 3 per cent in Continental Europe.
In a trading statement, Laura Ashley said that “despite the overall strong like-for-like performance, trading performance in Fashion and margin performance in both home furnishings and fashion during the Christmas period were lower than our expectations. This was due to unexpectedly high levels of discounting and a change in the product mix in home furnishings.”
In the 23 weeks ending January 4 total like-for-like sales were up by 5 per cent, with home furnishing sales up 6 per cent and women’s fashion sales up by 3 per cent. Total like-for-like sales in the UK were up 7pe cent, while margins were slightly lower than in the same period last year.
Trading in Europe worsened, with the recent recent announcement of store closures increasing the amount of discounted stock on sale. Total like-for-like sales were down by 7 per cent and margins fell significantly. The company is still looking for franchise partners and will “continue to review underperforming stores in the region.”
Following the disappointing Christmas, the comnay said:”it is now anticipated that the group’s trading results will be substantially lower than current market forecasts.” For the year ending January 25, Laura Ashley now expects to roughly break even.
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