Laura Ashley has reported a 6.3% gain in half-year group sales to £127.8m, with increases across all product categories.

However, the retailer’s profitability was hit by £5.5 million of exchange-rate losses. Interim pre-tax profit fell to £1.1 million, from £4.7 million in 2008.

UK like-for-like retail sales soared 6.7% in the six months to August 1, when furniture sales advanced 9.3% as a result of extra promotional activity and range expansions.

Comparable fashion sales were up 8.2% on last year. Laura Ashley said growth was due to additional selling space from its store refurbishment programme, while it revealed jersey dresses, jumpers and jewellery had sold “particularly well”.

Home accessories sales were up 1%, and while decorating sales fell 2.4% on a like-for-like basis, total sales surged 6.1%.

Group chairman KP Khoo said: “I am encouraged by the positive start we have seen to the second half and remain cautiously optimistic that this momentum will continue through to the end of the year.

“I remain confident that Laura Ashley is well positioned with its key focus on operational efficiencies, excellence in product offering and multi-channel retailing.”