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Laura Ashley sales jump 7.5% in H1

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Furniture & fashion retailer Laura Ashley has seen total group sales jump 7.5 per cent in its first half as it seeks to increase its scope across multichannel platforms and international markets, it has been announced today.

Like-for-like (LFL) UK sales rose 3.9 per cent in the 26 weeks to July 28th 2012, while total UK sales increased 6.1 per cent to £127.5 million.

Profit-before-tax soared to £8.3 million, up 13.7 per cent on the same period last year while e-commerce revenue grew 21.4 per cent.

Total e-commerce and mail order sales grew 17.8 per cent on last year, now accounting for 17.8 per cent of total UK retail sales.

Over the period, the retailer launched a smartphone enabled site including free apps which has helped drive online sales and a new ‘click and collect in store’ service is set to launch during the second half.

However, furniture sales decreased by 1.1 per cent over the period and LFL’s were broadly flat at -0.3 per cent, while fashion sales fell 1.2 per cent and were also flat on a LFL basis.

Laura Ashley Chairman Tan Sri Dr. K P Khoo admitted that the sector continued to see challenges through the period, though added there are reasons to remain positive for the future.

“Our multichannel and international strategies have continued to develop, increase and add significant value to our business, with the website now including extra functionality that has significantly enhanced our customer shopping experience,” Khoo said.

“As a British brand, we are very proud that over 40 per cent of our sales come from product manufactured in the UK.

“While we remain mindful of the broader consumer environment and its challenges, we are confident that this progress can be maintained.”

Laura Ashley currently operates from 263 franchised stores in 29 territories, having opened and closed one store in the UK while opening an additional two in Russia over the period and is set to open further units in Japan, Taiwan and Australia in the second half.

In its interim results statement, the retailer said: “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 per cent for the 32 weeks to 8 September 2012.

“While we remain mindful of the broader consumer environment and its challenges, we are confident that this progress can be maintained.”

Published on Wednesday 12 September by Editorial Assistant

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