Laura Ashley homewares makes US debut in Kohl's

Laura Ashley is to bring a touch of legendary English dash to US department store group Kohl's, with the introduction of an exclusive homewares range to 542 stores.

The venture is one of Laura Ashley's most ambitious attempts to crack the US since shutting its stores in 1999.

The Laura Ashley Lifestyle range - initially restricted to 40 bath and bedroom accessories, but slated for growth - will arrive in Kohl's stores before the end of this month.

Parent Laura Ashley Holdings will take an undisclosed cut of revenues.

The potential is thought to be massive - homewares have sold well, while its famous fashion offer has suffered.

Laura Ashley USA vice-president of licensing Ivy Tan said she will work closely with Kohl's over the next year to beef up the range.

'This is just a starting point. The range will grow. We have a huge programme,' she said.

Licensing is an increasingly popular way for UK retailers to establish a presence in the US. The strategy reduces risk and exploits local retail expertise.

In an unrelated development, Laura Ashley has put 30 of its 210 UK shops - including Kensington and Marble Arch - up for sale.

The potential sale of the stores reflects a policy of relocation to off-pitch premises.

Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner said the move to off-pitch sites could herald the end of Laura Ashley's fashion business. 'They've been expanding their secondary locations with furniture, but the loss of 30 stores on high streets does not bode well for fashion,' he said.