Laura Ashley annual profits fall to just £100,000

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Laura Ashley saw annual profits come in at just £100,000 as it continues to close stores in the UK.

Chairman Khoo Kay Peng said the retailer had experienced “difficult trading conditions” for the first half of the year, which it also expects to continue into the second half.

The heritage fashion and homeware retailer saw statutory pre-tax profits tumble from £6.3 million the previous year, and like-for-like sales dropped 0.4 per cent.

Its results were also negatively impacted by a £4.7 million hit on the sale of a Singapore property, which was originally acquired to become Laura Ashley’s Asian headquarters.

Profits fell by 33 per cent before tax and exceptional items of £5.6 billion in the year to June 30, down from £8.4 million the previous year.

The group also suffered a 7.2 per cent decline in sales to £257.2 million.

UK sales fell 6.3 per cent to £236 million over the year, while the business closed eight of its 168 UK stores.

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the retailer. The group pointed out that its performance online had improved, with like-for-like internet sales up 4.1 per cent, now accounting for 25 per cent of retail revenues.

Meanwhile its fashion division also saw comparable sales rise 9.7 per cent in an “extremely competitive sector”.

“As set out at the time of the interim results, the trading environment for the first half of the year was challenging and the board expected these difficult trading conditions to continue into the second half of the year,” Peng said on Wednesday.

“This proved to be the case and, given the softer trading environment for the year ended June 30 2018, we are disappointed to report a fall in profits,” he added.

Looking forward, Laura Ashley said it is working to expand its hotel venture in the UK and international after the success of its franchised hotel in the Lake District.

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