Laura Ashley has reported pre-tax profits of 10.5 million pounds in the first half of the year. This is up from 1.1 million pounds reported a year ago. The company has shown an increase in sales in all four of its divisions which include furniture, home accessories, decorating items and its well-known fashion line.
The company owns 225 UK stores and others internationally. It also has a strong Internet presence and sales over the Internet jumped by 63 pc in the first half. Much of its success has been credited to two new custom services that allow customers to create made to order furniture and made to measure furniture covers.
The company’s chairman, Dr. K.P. 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 e-commerce and international channels have continued to grow and become increasingly important to our multi-channel strategy.”
The home furnishings division, which saw a 5.2 per cent increase in like-for-like sales, reported a growing demand for children’s room furnishings as well as the Laura Ashley home scents.
“Our home fragrances include candles, room perfumes, pot pourris and diffuser sticks,” said Nick Kaloyirou, Laura Ashley’s chief operating officer. She said the company’s home scents were “much nicer” than supermarket-bought air fresheners scents. She added: “We introduce a new fragrance from the range each season and it continues to prove very popular.”
Chief executive Lillian Tan said the company is cautious for the second half due to consumer’s uncertainty in the economy but said that 2010 earnings were on track to hit 14.4 million. She also said the Laura Ashley company has plans to open 4 or 5 additional UK stores. Abroad they plan to open 80 new stores in China, 20 in South Korea, and 20 in the Middle East by 2015.