Sales at Laura Ashley jumped 8.4 per cent in the 17 weeks to May 30, due mainly to targeted promotions and store openings. Like-for-like sales rose 6.9 per cent.

In its trading statement the retailer said that store openings slowed in the period. One new UK shop and three in France took the store count to 229 stores in total. There are also 222 franchise stores internationally and Laura Ashley confirmed that its franchise partners have more openings planned for this year.

Online and mail order sales rocketed 11 per cent, driven by an internet sales hike of 41.6 per cent, offset by a mail order decline of 24.2 per cent.

Numis analyst Andy Wade raised his profit forecast from £10.2m to £11.5m for the year to January 2010 and said: “We view this projection as conservative and consider that earnings risk remains firmly to the upside.”