But like-for-likes take a nosedive

Sales for home and fashion retailer Laura Ashley were up 6.9 per cent to£113.9 million in its first half. However, tough market conditions and cannibalisation from store openings meant that like-for-likes dropped 7.1 per cent in the UK.

The results for the 26 weeks to July 28, showed that pre-tax profits for the retailer soared 113 per cent to£6.4 million, from just£3 million last year.

Current trading has remained fair in the current climate, with sales up 4.5 per cent, but like-for-likes slipped 8.3 per cent in the 32 weeks to September 8.

Laura Ashley chairman Kay Peng Khoo said: “Improved profitability is a result of our successful realignment programme, improved product offering and continued focus on operational efficiency.”

In its home shopping channel, which accounts for 12 per cent of the retailer’s UK sales, mail order sales were down 12 per cent, with e-commerce sales a saving grace, rising 37 per cent.

So far this year, 13 stores have been opened. A total of 50 openings are expected by the end of the year.

New branding for the retailer is also being tested in a London store, while head office remain divided on whether to roll out the new fascia.