Laura feels at home as division proves star player

Laura Ashley fashion
Laura Ashley fashion
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​Strong sales of home accessories ​boosted Laura Ashley’s half-year results as the retail chain reported a 15​ per cent​ jump in profits to £8.5​m.

The sofas-to-wallpaper group, which has ​13 stores in ​Yorkshire, said it was pleased with its overall performance in an “extremely competitive sector”.

​The group’s like-for-like sales surged by eight per cent in the five weeks to August 30, having risen by 1.2 per cent in the half year.

In home accessories, which includes lighting, bed linen, rugs and cushions, Laura Ashley said sales in the six-month period significantly outperformed the market with a rise of 4.3​ per cent​ on a like-for-like basis.

The company said: “Our star performers in this category were lighting and our increasingly popular gifts and accessories ranges. The strength of this category lies in its diversity, quality and how it complements our decorating themes.”

The furniture product category, which includes beds and mirrors, saw half-year sales decline by 1.2​ per cent​ on a same-store basis but the company is hopeful that new ranges for the second half will improve the performance.

Underlying sales in decorating and fashion were up by 1.3​ per cent​ and 0.1​ per cent​ respectively, the company added.

The retailer also opened its second hotel – a 62-bedroom property on the shores of Lake Windermere – in a move which showcases its products.

Analyst Freddie George, at Cantor Fitzgerald, said Laura Ashley is performing ahead of his forecasts, but kept his target for full-year profits at £20.5​m as the firm still has to tackle Christmas.