Floral-inspired fashion and furniture retailer Laura Ashley is to open standalone clothing stores in a bid to lift sales.
Chief executive Lillian Tan said the clothing-only stores would enable the retailer to open in fashion-centric locations and where there was not the space for the full offer.
At present the 225-store retailer only operates stores with a combined furniture and fashion offer. Laura Ashley, which makes 30% of its sales through furniture and 21% through fashion, closed its fashion-only stores seven years ago.
However, Laura Ashley has been examining new concepts. In April Retail Week revealed it was to open a standalone kids shop selling furniture and clothing. It also opened a Laura Ashley Gift & Accessories store in London’s Liverpool Street station this year.
Laura Ashley revealed a surge in pre-tax profits excluding exceptionals from £100,000 to £5.7m in the 26 weeks to July 31. Tan said it had benefited from better exchange rates compared with last year. It had also relied on fewer promotions.
Group turnover increased 5.7% to £135m, powered by a 63% surge in online sales, and by the UK arm, which notched up a 5.5% increase in revenue to £121.6m. UK like-for-likes were up 6.2%. UK sales growth has slowed in recent weeks, with like-for-likes increasing 4.9% in the 31 weeks to September 4.
In the six-month period, furniture like-for-likes increased 9.2% while fashion grew 1.6%.
The retailer will next year reintroduce girls’ fashion for the first time in five years. The ranges, for girls aged two to eight, will be in stores in late spring.
Tan said it would delay opening its kids standalone furniture and fashion stores until it had developed its clothing range.