Laura Ashley half year profits surged 28% making the retailer confident about prospects despite the punishing trading environment.

Profit before tax rocketed to £7.3m in the 26 weeks to July 30 as UK like-for-likes grew 3.5%.

Total UK retail sales were down 1.1% to £120.1m as the retailer continues shutting unprofitable stores.Total group sales were flat at £135.3m.

All of the retailer’s product categories except home accessories showed like-for-like growth with furniture up 5.8% and fashion rising 5.2%.

Laura Ashley’s e-commerce sales soared 9.2% and its franchise revenue rose 13.4%.

Laura Ashley chairman Tan Sri Dr KP Khoo said: “Once again, Laura Ashley’s strong product offering, distinctive brand and continued focus on providing an attractive retail experience for customers have delivered another robust performance.

“These results show that our multi-channel and international strategies are working well. These, along with our strong balance sheet and ongoing operational efficiencies, give me confidence, notwithstanding the continuing economic headwinds, that we will meet the board’s expectations for the year.”