• Laura Ashley reveals full-year pre-tax profits of £25.8m
  • Like-for-like sales rose 4.1%
  • Online sales soared 51%

Laura Ashley has reported a healthy rise in full-year like-for-likes as strong furniture sales bolstered the retailer’s underperforming fashion arm.

The fashion and furniture retailer reported pre-tax profits, excluding exceptional items, of £25.8m in the 74 weeks to June 30. 

Laura Ashley changed its year-end reporting period last year. In the 53-week period last year pre-tax profits were £22.9m.

The retailer, which is controlled by Malaysia’s MUI Group, incurred an exceptional charge of £1.9m during the 74-week period, £1.3m of which was attributed to an Australian licence partner falling into administration.

This cost put Laura Ashley’s pre-tax profit including exceptional items at £23.9m.

Total sales were at £400.9m during the period, up from £303.6m over the 53-week period last year.

Like-for-likes rose 4.1% over a 74-week comparison period.

Laura Ashley’s online sales soared 51% to £73.5m in comparison with a 53-week period in 2015.

UK like-for-likes rose across all of its categories, home accessories and furniture sales grew 6.8% and 4.3% respectively on a like-for-like basis.

However, although fashion like-for-likes grew 2.2%, total fashion sales fell 3.9% during the period due to store closures.

The retailer opened five new stores in the UK and closed 18 during the period, taking its total store footprint to 192, reducing the overall store space 4.2% to 729,000 sq ft.

Laura Ashley began operating two House of Fraser concessions in March this year.

Chief financial officer and joint chief operating officer Sean Lavin said that the retailer was monitoring the success of the concessions and that any further concessions with House of Fraser or other department stores were dependent on that success and quaility of space and location.

Laura Ashley, which reported a 9.6% fall in full-year profits on a 53-week basis in March, said it had 252 franchised stores in 29 territories worldwide during the period, down from 303 last year. 

Chairman Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Peng said: “I am pleased with the overall performance of the business. Continued like-for-like growth in the UK market, boosted by the good performance of our digital channel, is encouraging.

“In a time of uncertainty for retail and the global economy at large, I am optimistic and confident that Laura Ashley will remain a business with solid foundations to withstand challenges as they arise.”