Targeted promotional activity and increased selling space boosted sales for retailer Laura Ashley in the first 19 weeks of the company's second half.

The fashion and homeware company said UK retail sales had risen 8.8% in the 19 weeks to 12 December, while like-for-like sales were up 4.9%.

Laura Ashley opened one new store and closed another during the period, leaving the company with 231 stores in the UK and Ireland, but increased the amount of retail selling space at the same time.

Revenues were boosted by net growth of 20.8% in e-commerce and mail order sales.

A 47.5% hike in e-commerce sales more than offset a 23.7% decline in mail order, the company said.

"In a retail environment that remains challenging, we will continue to focus on our strong brand and product offering, in addition to improving operational efficiencies," Laura Ashley said.

"We expect the full year trading to be broadly in line with the board's expectations."