British retailer Laura Ashley, famous for its floral-print fabrics, posted a 41 per cent rise in pre-tax profits for the first half of the year to £2.4m.

Group turnover increased by 11 per cent to £131.4m compared to £118.1m in the same period last year, with that boost in business helped by an 11 per cent increase in like-for-like sales in its women's fashion division.

Sales from the company's mail order division increased 43 per cent while its home furnishings sector reported a 15 per cent increase in sales.

"We are pleased with these results which reflect the continued progress of the group," the firm said in its results statement on Tuesday. "The performance of women's fashion was encouraging and home furnishings continues to deliver strong sales growth.

"Overall we are encouraged by the current trading pattern. However, in view of present uncertain economic conditions we remain cautious about the outlook for the year as a whole."

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