• H1 adjusted pre-tax profit down 6% to GBP7.8m
  • Group sales down 5.6% to GBP137.3m
  • Like-for-like retail sales fall 2.2%

Retailer Laura Ashley suffered a fall in first-half adjusted pre-tax profit after overall retail and fashion sales declined in a “disappointing” season.

The UK company said UK retail sales were down 5.9% to GBP120m in the six months to 27 July, but gross margin edged up 1.3%, despite a 6.9% decline in fashion revenues and 6.6% slump in fashion like-for-like sales.

E-commerce revenue also fell, down 3.7% in the period, and like-for-like sales in the first eight weeks of the second half were down 1.3%, reflecting the “continued underperformance of the fashion category”.

Describing the trading period as “challenging”, Laura Ashley chairman Tan Sri Dr KP Khoo said: “A period of prolonged cold weather impacted fashion sales as customers continued to wear winter clothing and did not buy into spring/summer ranges later in the season.”