Speculation over Laura Ashley's future
Assorted pundits have been lining up to share their insights over the current problems impacting the Laura Ashley business which has entered into talks with its lender to secure further funding. Trading in recent months has been challenging according to the business which suffered a 10.8 per cent drop in group sales for the half year to 31st December. Falls in consumer spending on higher ticket items are continuing despite Laura Ashley mounting numerous sale promotions in an attempt to revive interest in what has become a market swamped by fashion brands and their respective homewares product ranges. It is widely expected that more of Laura Ashley's stores will face closure in addition to the 40 it closed in 2019.
The Laura Ashley business is also being impacted by the march of coronavirus which is affecting its sales in the Far East.
Laura Ashley chairman Andrew Khoo said: "We acknowledge that recent trading conditions, in line with the overall UK retail market, have indeed been challenging. There is however a robust plan in place to turn the business around and the board of directors is optimistic that the recent appointment of Katherine Poulter will enable the business to executive this broad-based strategy. The major shareholders have indicated their continued confidence in the business and are fully supportive of the management team and execution of the transformation plan."
Laura Ashley currently operates 155 UK stores and employs around 2700 staff. It is majority owned by Malaysian investor MUI.