Laura Ashley to target younger homebuyers after drop in sales

 
City A.M. Reporter
LAURA Ashley is planning to tap in to the recovery in the housing market by targeting younger customers for its homewares division after a lacklustre performance from its fashion range hurt sales and its shares.

Famous for its feminine and floral designs, the 60-year-old firm said yesterday it planned to make its furniture, home accessories and decorating ranges more appealing to 25 to 35-year-olds who are looking to buy properties for the first time.

“Homeware has been the most important for the last 10 years or so,” finance director Sean Anglim said, adding that any rise in consumer confidence would take time to feed through to retailers.

The focus on the homewares division follows a disappointing performance from the group’s fashion division which posted a 6.9 per cent fall in sales in the 26 weeks to 27 July, helping to drag total group sales down by 5.6 per cent.

That drop took group sales to £137.3m, while profit before tax slipped £900,000 on last year to £7.4m. Shares fell 8.6 per cent to 24p.