Laura Ashley back in fashion

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LONDON – Fashion and furnishings chain Laura Ashley is back in fashion Clothing and home furnishings retailer Ashley continued its return to strength after sales rose across all areas of the business yesterday.The group, which is famous for its floral fabrics, reported like for-like-sales up 8.7 per cent for the 50 weeks to January 13.

Laura Ashley expects trading profits for its full financial year to be up 10 per cent on the consensus of broker forecasts.Total UK retail sales were up by 12.5 per cent, with increases seen in all four product areas – home accessories, decorating, furniture and fashion.

Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner applauded the performance, calling it "encouraging".
"This is a good performance, especially given the currently poorish furnishing market," he said in note and upgraded his recommendation for the shares to "outperform" from "hold".   Continued…
He also raised his forecasts for full year pretax profit to 12 million pounds from 10.5 million pounds.

Laura Ashley said,"The sales performance of the business improved in the second half of last year, which has resulted in slightly reduced like-for-like sales reported in this announcement,"

The group said it had also recently shed 10 under-performing stores and opened 17 new stores as part of its "realignment programme".

Shares in Laura Ashley rose 8.7 percent to 25 pence by 10:16 a.m., valuing the firm at 182.8 million pounds.

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