Laura Ashley plots expansion in China as online sales surge 21pc

LAURA Ashley yesterday posted a 13.7 per cent increase in pre-tax profit, bucking the negative trend on the UK high street, as it eyes up expansion in China.

UK like-for-like sales growth in the company’s 211 stores was 3.9 per cent over the half year to 28 July, while total retail sales were up 6.1 per cent to £127.5m, largely thanks to a 21.5 per cent increase in online sales over the period.

Chief operating officer Sean Anglim said yesterday that the fashion retailer’s growth strategy focuses on expanding into China and other Asian territories. It already has 100 stores in Japan, around 40 in Australia as well as a presence in continental Europe.

Anglim said that Laura Ashley will open its first store in China within the next 12 months, and is looking for partners to work with.

Shares closed up 9.29 per cent at 25p yesterday.