• FY profit up 6.8% to GBP15.7m 
  • Group sales fall 1.4% to GBP294.5m
  • UK fashion revenues down 6.5%
Laura Ashleys full-year profit increased 6.8% to GBP15.7m

Laura Ashley's full-year profit increased 6.8% to GBP15.7m

Fashion, furniture and furnishings retailer Laura Ashley says it is "encouraged" by like-for-like sales growth in the second half of the year, helping it to record a 6.8% increase in annual profit. 

The UK company saw profit reach GBP15.7m (US$26.1m) for the 52 weeks to 25 January, up from GBP14.7m in the same period of last year.

Group sales fell by 1.4% to GBP294.5m from GBP298.8m last year, while retail like-for-like sales were down 0.4% on 2013.

Gross margin rate climbed 0.3% despite a 6.5% decline in UK retail fashion sales and a 5.2% fall in fashion like-for-like revenues.

Although the 6.7% drop in UK fashion sales during the first half was "disappointing", Laura Ashley said, the second half decline slowed to 3.8%, with like-for-like sales growth of 1.5% in the fourth quarter.

E-commerce revenues accounted for 16% of total UK retail sales and 14% of total group sales during the year. 

During the first two months of current trading, like-for-like sales grew 2%, marking what the group described as an "encouraging start to the year", adding that this progress can be maintained.

Commenting on the company's full-year performance, chairman Tan Sri Dr K P Khoo said: "I am encouraged that, despite a challenging first half, we have seen good like-for-like sales growth during the second half.

"We will continue with the progress we have made in developing our brand, growing our product ranges, improving our systems and enhancing our online business. These initiatives, together with the growth of our international franchise business, will remain our primary focus."