Strong Christmas drives second profit upgrade in two months at Laura Ashley

FASHION and homewares retailer Laura Ashley issued its second profit upgrade in two months yesterday.

The company said it was confident that full-year profits would be better than City forecasts.

It said a strong performance over Christmas and early January means that the results will be “significantly higher than earlier expectations”.

Analysts on average were expecting a pre-tax profit of £15.8m.

The brand is still associated with its distinctive floral prints.

Lately it has expanded overseas, opening its first store in Bahrain and is eyeing opportunities across the globe. The group, which has 221 stores in the UK and Ireland, posted like-for-like sales growth of 2.7 per cent in the 19 weeks to 11 December.

The company will announce its full-year results for the year to 29 January at the end of March.

Meanwhile, shares jumped by around 20 per cent following the upbeat trading statement.

The retailer opened its first gift and accessories store at London’s Liverpool Street station last July.

The chain has 233 franchise stores overseas and also aims to expand into China, Indonesia and Russia.

Laura Ashley, which was set up in a London flat in 1953, floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1985.

It had struggled in previous years but has stormed back into the public eye recently.