Laura Ashley profits up 14%
Laura Ashley, fashion and home furnishings retailer, is celebrating a 14% increase in its first half profits as brisk trade in home accessories and strong overseas growth boosted sales.
In the 26 weeks to 28 July, pre-tax profit increased to £8.3 million while total group sales rose to £145.4 million from £135.3 million in the same period last year. Total UK retail sales were up 6.1% to £127.5 million with sales rising by 3.9% on a like-for-like basis. In the 32 weeks to 8 September like-for-like sales grew by 4.2%.
While like-for-like sales in furniture and fashion were broadly flat there was a strong like-for-like performance in accessories where sales rose 10.4%.
Laura Ashley continued to grow its international franchising operations in the period by opening two new stores in Russia. The retailer now has 263 franchised stores in 29 territories worldwide and is seeking new partners in Asia, South American and Europe. Licensing income increased by 11% to £2 million.
E-commerce sales grew by 21.4% as the retailer continued to develop its multi-channel strategy to drive sales. Non-store revenue grew by 18.7%.
"As we enter the second half of the year, we have seen the momentum of the first half of the year maintained with UK like-for-like sales growth of 4.2%. While we remain mindful of the broader consumer environment and its challenges, we are confident that this progress can be maintained," the group said.
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