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Laura Ashley online sales grow by 5.3% to reach £51.1m

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Laura Ashley today said online sales passed the £50m milestone in its latest financial year.

Ecommerce sales of £51.1m were £2.6m, or 5.3%, ahead of the same time last year. Online now accounts for 19.5% of UK retail sales at the fashion to homewares company, a Top100 company in the IRUK Top500.

The udpate came as Laura Ashley reported sales of £289.5m in the year to January 30. That's down by 4.6% in total, but up by 4.8% on a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of store openings and closures. Profits before tax and exceptional items came in at £20.7m, 9.6% down from £22.9m in last year's 53-week year. After one-off costs, including an exceptional charge of £1.3m related to the administration of its Australian licence partner, pre-tax profits of £19.4m were 17.4% down on last time.

Chairman Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Peng said online like-for-like growth of 14.5% reflected improvements to the Laura Ashley digital platform and home delivery service. But while UK sales showed "healthy" like-for-like growth, he said the year had been "challenging" in overseas markets.

"We will continue to work with our overseas partners following a challenging year for our international business," he said. "The acquisition of our Asian headquarters in Singapore signals our commitment to the overseas business channel. Our plans for continued international growth remain central to our strategy as a worldwide brand.

"We remain optimistic for the future and are confident that the strength of the brand and the enduring appeal of our product ranges mean we are well positioned for continued growth."

Laura Ashley sells from 193 stores in the UK and online. It also operates a hotel in the UK where its homewares are showcased, and where revenue increased by 29% during the year.

Its full-year figures show that ecommerce momentum seen in the first half of the year, as deliveries started to international markets including the Benelux countries, was maintained in the second half.

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