Laura Ashley swings to loss, shares down

Laura Ashley swings to loss, shares down

Laura Ashley (LON:ALY) posted a statutory loss before tax on Thursday as it battles against the difficult trading conditions that have hit the UK high street.

Shares in the company were down almost 5% during Thursday morning trading.

The homeware and clothing retailer said that, for the 52 weeks to 30 June, statutory loss before tax amounted to £14.3 million.

The primary causes for the year-on-year drop in profit are the underperformance of Home Furnishing and its website after a re-platforming exercise last November.

Earlier this year, the retailer warned on annual profits, citing a “turbulent market” in its interim results.

Total like-for-like retail sales were down 3.5%, whilst total group sales reached £232.5 million, down from the £257.2 million figure recorded for 2018.

“The last twelve months have proved to be a difficult trading period for the Group and indeed for the retail sector as a whole,” Andrew Khoo, Chairman, commented on the results in a company statement.

“We have focussed on the reasons why Home Furnishings have underperformed and have taken necessary steps to mitigate this, including adding new contemporary product to our ranges,” the Chairman continued.

“We have taken active steps to listen to our customers and now believe that we are on an appropriate recovery path. We continue to invest in our website and are working with our online service providers to ensure that it is optimised to deliver an enhanced customer experience and to achieve the desired growth.”

“We are pleased with the continued resurgence of our fashion business, achieving like-for-like growth of 9.2%. This is the result of the improved design of our ranges.”

Over the past year, the UK’s retail sector has been battling amid difficult trading conditions, with staff cuts and store closures widely reported.

Last December, Laura Ashley announced plans to close 40 stores in the UK, focusing instead on growth in Asia.

Shares in Laura Ashley Holdings plc (LON:ALY) were trading at -4.91% as of 10:54 GMT +1 Thursday.