Laura Ashley full year profits edged up 2% to £20.5m as its like-for-like sales recovered after a “challenging” first half.

Full year like-for-likes dipped 0.4% in its year to January 25, however they edged up 1.4% in the second half. Total sales declined 1.4%.

Laura Ashley said it had an “encouraging start” to the year as like-for-likes increased 2%.

For its full year, fashion like-for-likes fell 5.2%, improving after a 6.7% decrease in the first half. The retailer said it was confident it had now addressed challenges faced over the years and it now has a clearer understanding of what its customers expect in quality, price and style. Like-for-likes in the category edged up 1.5% in its fourth quarter.

Laura Ashley chairman Tan Sri Dr. K P Khoo said: “I am encouraged that, despite a challenging first half, we have seen good like-for-like sales growth during the second half. We will continue with the progress we have made in developing our brand, growing our product ranges, improving our systems and enhancing our online business. These initiatives, together with the growth of our international franchise business, will remain our primary focus.”

He added the environment remains challenging. “The retail environment continues to be both competitive and challenging but we are confident that the quality of our product ranges, the enduring appeal of our great British brand and the loyalty of our many worldwide customers will enable us to make further progress in growing the business.”