• FY underlying profit up 5.2% to GBP10.1m
  • Sales up 3% to GBP268.4m
  • Fashion like-for-likes rise 9.8%

 

Fashion and homeware retailer Laura Ashley posted an underlying full-year pre-tax profit of GBP10.1m (US$15.4m), boosted by a surge in apparel sales.

The UK-based company said group sales had risen 3% to GBP268.4m in the 52 weeks to 30 January, while retail sales increased 3.6% to GBP243.6m and like-for-like sales were up 3.5%.

Profit before taxation and including exceptional gains was up 7.8% to GBP11m, Laura Ashley said.

The figures were boosted by a strong performance from the company’s fashion offer, which posted sales up 12.9%, and like-for-likes up 9.8%.

This followed the conversion of nine of Laura Ashley’s stores from home to mixed products during the year, which gave an additional 14,000sq ft to fashion trading.

The company said its new ranges and products, such as the cape and the all-in-one trouser suit, had been in high demand.

Accessories had also been very popular, especially scarves and jewellery, as well as nightwear.

“This has been another year of continued revenue growth for Laura Ashley despite a difficult market,” said Tan Sri Dr K P Khoo, chairman of Laura Ashley Holdings.

“2009 witnessed a period of consolidation in the marketplace following the uncertainties of 2008.”

In the eight weeks to 27 March, UK retail sales increased by 5.6%, with like-for-likes up 4.6% thanks to targeted promotional activity.

“Customer confidence is returning, but is tempered with a degree of caution,” said Dr Khoo.