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Laura Ashley losses widen to 4 million pounds

By Huw Hughes


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Laura Ashley has reported widening losses as the embattled retailer struggles to turn itself around.

Loss before tax for the 26 weeks to 31 December widened by 166 percent to 4 million pounds compared to 1.5 million pounds the prior year.

The British fashion and homeware retailer said margins during the period were negatively affected by the weak Sterling against the US Dollar and an increase in domestic costs. Operating expenses for the period dropped slightly to 43.8 million pounds.

Total group sales dropped by 10.8 percent to 109.6 million year-on-year while total like-for-like retail sales were down 10.4 percent.

Total UK retail sales dropped by 10.4 percent to 106.5 million pounds, while total e-commerce sales fell 15.5 percent to 22.2 million pounds.

Fashion sales, which accounted for 21 percent of total revenue, decreased by 2.3 percent in the period, while the category’s like-for-like sales were flat on last year. “We continue to build on the success of our fashion ranges with a much stronger offering in contemporary and wearable styles. Our fashion range is further enhanced by the rich heritage of our archive and we will continue to use this unique and rich resource,” the company said.

The Home Accessories, Furniture, and Decorating categories accounted for 37 percent, 26 percent, and 16 percent of total sales, respectively.

Lossess widen at Laura Ashley in ‘challenging’ year

Commenting on the report in a statement, Laura Ashley chairman Andrew Khoo, said: “Over the past year there have been well-documented market challenges facing the retail sector. Similarly at Laura Ashley, we have seen a combination of factors impact our results, ranging from higher costs largely driven by the Brexit uncertainty, minimum wages and business rates increases.

“In the Autumn of 2019, we carried out a Strategic Review of the business to set the future direction of the company and return Laura Ashley to the great British brand that is known and cherished around the world. This review identified six areas of focus: improving our brand and customer strategy, accelerating digital, increasing store productivity, improving products and trading, growth opportunities, and focusing on our organization and culture.

“We are focused on developing Laura Ashley as a true lifestyle brand that embraces and reconnects with our traditional values and our strong British heritage.

“We are already making changes to our product range, which will not only be recognisable as iconic, exclusive Laura Ashley designs and prints, but also products that are desirable today and represent timeless quality. We have new and exciting partnerships with brands like Barbour, Rag & Bone and Urban Outfitters and expect to see these developing throughout 2020. We are continuing to champion great British design and craftsmanship and are working with local suppliers in a sustainable manner. We remain committed to our roots in Wales and as an employer in the region.”

Photo credit: Laura Ashley, Facebook

Laura Ashley