Home furnishings and womenswear retailer Laura Ashley has today revealed that total UK sales in the 17 weeks to May 28th were down 4.5 per cent year-on-year.
In an interim management statement the company said that the trading slump is largely due to the store realignment programme it undertook in the last financial year, which resulted in 16 outlets closing down.
Another three stores have been closed during the current financial year, as the business looks to manage costs.
Like-for-like sales for the 17 weeks were down 1.3 per cent, but today’s statement indicates that retail sales improved in the second half of that that period, which should give the retailer confidence for the remainder of the year.
“The franchising and licensing business of the company continues to expand following the successful conclusion of several new agreements with established companies,” the company added.
“There are now 236 franchise stores operating globally in 27 countries. The company will continue to enlarge its global presence through strong international partnerships.”
Laura Ashley’s online sales improved by 6.7 per cent year-on-year during the most recent trading period, which is consistent with the overall e-tail industry as highlighted by the IMRG and Capgemini’s latest survey last month.
The retailer currently operates 214 stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland and it predicts that full-year trading will be in line with expectations.