The group said profit before tax and exceptionals for the 52 weeks to January 29 was up 55 per cent to£4.8 million. Total group sales for the year shrank by 11.4 per cent to£237.5 million. Total UK sales were down 15.4 per cent and UK like-for-like sales were also down 10.2 per cent.
The retailer said its UK portfolio was reduced by a net 16 stores, bringing the total to 184. It expects to open a further 15 stores over the next 12 months.
Laura Ashley chief executive officer Lillian Tan said: 'Laura Ashley's improved performance in 2004 is the result of management's focus on improving gross margin rate and on reducing costs in all areas of the business. We now have a cost base that is aligned with the current scale of our business, and our initiative to improve our retail portfolio continues. Retail conditions in the UK remain difficult.'