Laura Ashley offers shoppers a place to stay with a new hotel

Kasmira Jefford
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ENGLISH fashion and interiors designer Laura Ashley said yesterday it has bought a hotel in Hertfordshire for £5.8m as the company shrugged off tough high street conditions to post a rise in full year sales.

“Our plan is to turn it into a Laura Ashley boutique hotel that will showcase our products from fabrics to wallpapers and furniture,” said chief operating officer, Seán Anglim, without disclosing the location of the hotel, which will be opened to Laura Ashley fans next year.

He was speaking as the retailer unveiled a 2.6 per cent dip in profits to £18.8m in the year to 28 January after a strong performance in the first half was offset by “a more challenging autumn.”

Like-for-like sales, however, grew 3.3 per cent driven by the sale of big ticket items like furniture.

The company, which has 245 franchises worldwide and 211 UK stores said it was encouraged by a 10.9 per cent rise in like-for-like sales in 2012’s first eight weeks.