Shares at Laura Ashley jump as revenues grow

FASHION and home wares retailer Laura Ashley Holdings said yesterday it was confident that full-year trading would be ahead of its expectations, despite heavy snowfall in the UK and uncertain economic conditions.

The company’s shares, which have gained 30 per cent in the past year, closed 14.7 per cent higher at 19.5p after yesterday’s trading statement. For the first 19 weeks of the second half to 11 December, Laura Ashley’s total UK retail sales rose 1.3 per cent, while like-for-like sales grew 2.7 per cent.

“We have opened two new stores and closed 12 this year and continue to streamline our store portfolio in an effort to optimise profitability”, the company said. The company, which also sells fashion, decorating and furniture products, said a drive to close less profitable sites had helped to improve profitability.