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A quarter of Laura Ashley’s sales now take place online

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A quarter of Laura Ashley’s revenue now comes from online, the retailer said this week.

The fashion-to-homewares business, a Top100 retailer in IRUK Top500 research, said that online revenue of £59.7m in the year to June 30 represented 25% of total revenues of £257.3m, down from £277m a year earlier as eight stores closed. Ecommerce sales grew by 4.1% on a like-for-like basis – while total like-for-like retail sales fell by 0.4%. Pre-tax profits, before one-off costs, came in at £5.6m – but after one-off costs related to store closures and property , pre-tax profits stood at £0.1m, down from £6.3m a year earlier.

Chairman Dr Khoo Kay Peng said continued margin pressure and the impact of a changing retail landscape had contributed to the fall in profits.

“We are, however, encouraged by the progress and continued growth being made by our online business and will be launching a new digital platform in the weeks to come. We are also pleased with the 9.7% like-for-like growth of our fashion business in what is an extremely competitive sector.”

Laura Ashley sells online and through 160 UK stores, as of June 30. Over the coming year it plans to close five stores and open two new ones. During the year, 34% of sales were from home accessories, 29% from furniture, 20% from decorating and 17% from fashion.

In international markets, it said its Chinese digital platforms continued to grow, and that it had signed a new licensing partner in Thailand.

Dr Peng said: “Laura Ashley’s brand is built on beautifully designed, high quality products. Whilst the trading environment will continue to be challenging, we remain resolutely confidence in the underlying strength of this much-loved brand in its relevance for today’s consumer and in our strategies to both maintain and develop the brand and the company.”

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