Laura Ashley sales tumble

LAURA Ashley Holdings said yesterday its sales have fallen in recent weeks and it sees a tough outlook ahead.

The retailer’s full-year pre-tax profit almost doubled on online growth, improved sales from retail stores and the franchise business, but it said its performance had been declining since February.

Laura Ashley’s like-for-like UK retail sales for the eight weeks to 26 March fell 4.2 per cent. For the 52 weeks ended 29 January, the company’s pre-tax profit, excluding exceptional gains, rose to £19.3m from £10.1m last year. Revenue grew 6.2 per cent to £285m. It declared a final dividend of 1p , making a total dividend of 1.5p for the year, up 50 per cent from last year.