The Australian arm of women's fashion and home furnishings retailer Laura Ashley, which has operated in Australia and New Zealand under licence from its UK parent since 1971, has gone into administration.

FTI Consulting, which has been appointed as administrator, says the company's 38 stores will continue to trade as usual while "an urgent assessment of the company's financial position is conducted."

Laura Ashley's New Zealand operations, where it has four stores, will not be affected ­– nor will its British stores, which operate as a separate company.

UK-based parent Laura Ashley Holdings in September recorded a mixed performance during the first half to 1 August, as total profit grew but fashion sales fell.

Pre-tax profit was flat at GBP8.4m (US$12.9m) but group sales fell 3% to GBP139.7m. Like-for-like retail sales increased 7%, and UK fashion sales dropped 5% year-on-year.

However, international franchise revenue declined by nearly one-third to GBP11.7m from GBP17.1m, with problems in Japan, Russia and Ukraine blamed for the shortfall.

However, chairman Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Peng said: "We will continue to work with our overseas franchisees to ensure that we maximise the international opportunities for our franchise partners and the group."

Laura Ashley posts mixed H1 as fashion sales fall