Furniture & fashion retailer Laura Ashley has managed to improve like-for-like (LFL) sales in recent months but has had to decrease its store portfolio, it was announced today.
Total sales dropped 1.7 per cent year-on-year in the 19 weeks ending December 10th 2011 thanks in large part to the closure of five unprofitable outlets, adding to the 14 stores shut down last year.
Laura Ashley will be encouraged by the 1.4 per cent jump in LFL trading at the beginning of the second half of its financial year, which puts year-to-date LFL growth at 2.5 per cent, and also the success of its online business during the 19-week period.
A statement from the firm read: “E-commerce has recorded sales growth of nine per cent in the same reporting period.
“This has been helped by the recent enhancements to our website which now offers a fully comprehensive upholstery and made-to-measure curtain range on an interactive platform.”
During the first half the retailer recorded flat total sales growth and yet profits improved 28 per cent compared to the same six months the year before, and so despite a drop in overall trading so far in the second half it will easily be profitable over the full year.
Many businesses on the high street have found trading increasingly difficult as the year has progressed and so Laura Ashley will be pleased that its underlying sales have actually improved since the summer.
The new year marks the end of Lillian Tan’s seven-year stint as CEO of the company, with ex-CEO Ng Kwan Cheong stepping back into the position as Tan looks to pursue other interests.