UK fashion and home retailer Laura Ashley Holdings has reported a slight sales increase during the second half, but continues to shut stores.

Laura Ashley said it has opened two new stores and closed 12 this year, as it continues to streamline its store portfolio "in an effort to optimise profitability".

In the first 19 weeks of the second half to 11 December 2010, its total UK retail sales increased by 1.3%, with like-for-like sales up 2.7%.

A company statement added: "Although we are experiencing slower LFL growth in the second half due to the impact of a sluggish economy and adverse weather conditions, the underlying LFL sales growth for the year to date is 4.6%.

"In the same reporting period, the E-Commerce channel recorded growth of 28.7% as we continue to enhance and improve our online presence.

"Despite the current economic uncertainty and adverse weather conditions in the UK, we remain confident that full year trading will be ahead of the board's expectations."