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Laura Ashley sees ecommerce growth top 60%

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Fashion-to-futurniture retailer Laura Ashley’s ecommerce sales have risen by more than 60%, the company reported today in its first-half figures. The rise online helped the group as a whole to a 7.3% rise in group sales to £135.1m, compared to £127.8m at the same time last year.

The company said: “The improved total sales position was primarily due to the increase in ecommerce and UK store sales.”

Ecommerce sales rose by 63% to £15.4m in the 26 weeks to July 31, up from £9.4m last time. That compensated for a decline in mail order sales. Together the two sales channels now represent 15.2% of total UK retail sales, up from 11.9% at the same time last year.

Laura Ashley products can now be delivered to Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Austria.

In its financial statement, the company said: “We have been successful at using our ecommerce platform to attract new customers.”

It said customers were buying fashion over the internet, but that its online Made to Order furniture had also been “very well received”.

Meanwhile the group reduced its retail space by six stores to 225.

Pre-tax profits, before exceptional items, rose to £5.7m from £0.1m last time. Including exceptional gains, including £4.8m from the sale and leaseback of a warehouse, they rose to £10.5m from £1.1m last time.

Chairman Tan Sri Dr KP Khoo said: “In a difficult economic climate, Laura Ashley has continued to demonstrate the strength of its brand and has recorded positive like-for-like sales growth across all product categories. Our ecommerce and international channels have continued to grow and become increasingly important to our multichannel strategy.”

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