Profit doubles to £12.2m
Fashion-to-furnishings retailer Laura Ashley has announced its strongest profit in 10 years.

Profit before tax was double that of last year to£12.2 million for the 52 weeks to January 27.Total group sales were up 6.6 per cent to£225 million.

UK total sales increased in all categories, including home accessories, furniture, decorating and fashion. UK store like-for-like sales increased 8.2 per cent, with total sales up 10.3 per cent to£174.6 million.

Home accessories like-for-likes increased 8.2 per cent and decorating 7.8 per cent. Furniture slid 1.9 per cent. Fashion jumped 26.4 per cent - a turnaround from the previous year, when like-for-likes slumped 25 per cent. Total mail order and e-commerce sales climbed 0.8 per cent. E-commerce sales soared 22.5 per cent.

Margins grew as a result of the retailer's focus on efficient sourcing and reduced promotional activity.

During the period, Laura Ashley opened 20 stores in the UK and Ireland and is poised to open a similar number this year. At January 27, the retailer had 189 stores, including 94 mixed-product stores, 61 Home stores and 34 Home concessions stores.

Trading has been hit by the reduced promotional schedule, with like-for-likes for the eight weeks to March 24 down 4.8 per cent.

Chief executive officer Lillian Tan said: 'We are very pleased with this strong set of results, which demonstrates the success of the measures we have put in place over several years. We will continue to focus on improving on this success and maximising the great potential of the brand through increasing efficiency, higher productivity and improving margins.'