Laura Ashley raises £8m after selling entire stake in Moss Bros

Kasmira Jefford
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LAURA Ashley parted ways with suit-maker Moss Bros yesterday after selling its entire holding in the company and raising £8m.

The womenswear and home furnishings store started building up its stake in 2008, which sparked talks of a possible takeover, but a bid never came to fruition.

Laura Ashley is taking advantage of Moss Bros’ strong performance over the Christmas period.

The group on Tuesday posted a 13 per cent rise in like-for-like sales in the five weeks to 11 January and hiked its dividend, sending shares soaring 20 per cent to an eight-year high.

Shares in the company rose a further 4.4 per cent yesterday, closing up 94.5p.

Laura Ashley, which is famous for its floral designs, said the £8m from the sale will be used to “enhance the financial position of Laura Ashley and for additional working capital”.

The firm, which has yet to update on trading over the Christmas period, posted a 5.6 per cent fall in sales in the 26 weeks to 27 July after a disappointing performance from its fashion division.

The 60 year-old group, which is controlled by Malaysia’s MUI Group, hopes to tap into the recovery in the housing market by making its homeware section more appealing to 25 to 35-year-olds looking to buy properties for the first time.

It also launched its first boutique hotel in Hertfordshire this summer showcasing the retailer’s fabrics and furniture.