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Laura Ashley sells 74% more online

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Laura Ashley’s online sales have taken off so far this financial year, rising by an impressive 74%, new figures show.

The rise for the first 17 weeks of its financial year, to May 29, was revealed in Laura Ashley Holdings’ interim management statement released today.

That contrasts with a healthy 6.2% rise in total retail sales over the period, with like-for-like sales, stripping out the effect of store openings and closures, up by 5.3%.

The retailer’s mail order sales were down by 26%, but the success of online meant that the combined direct sales channel saw an overall 42% jump in sales.

The company is building an international business, in addition to its 229 UK and Republic of Ireland stores. In today’s update, the company said it had 233 franchise stores in 26 countries, three opened this year. A new South Korean franchise partner has also signed up.

The company said full-year trading would be in line with expectations. The update to investors said: “Despite the current economic uncertainties, we remain confident of continued growth in 2010 built on the platform of a strong balance sheet with no bank borrowing, a strong brand and a distinctive product offering. Maximising operational efficiency will continue to be a key focus for the management team.”

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