Laura Ashley’s profits plummet

Laura Ashley Kitchen. pic Richard Ponter 172030c
Laura Ashley Kitchen. pic Richard Ponter 172030c
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Profits at Laura Ashley plummeted 72 per cent last year as the struggling fashion and homeware retailer pointed to challenging trading conditions and the collapse of the pound following the Brexit vote.

The company said pre-tax profit tumbled from £22.8m to £6.3m in the year to June 30, although its comparable 2016 numbers ran over 74 weeks.

Like-for-like sales fell 3.1 per cent while total group sales dropped 30 per cent to £277m.

Chairman Khoo Kay Peng said: “Trading conditions have been challenging for the year ended 30 June 2017.

“The impact of weak sterling has also contributed to the overall fall in profit which the group has experienced.”

The collapse in sterling following the UK’s decision to quit the European Union last year has ramped up import costs for retailers, which have then passed the pain on to consumers.

The net result has been falling retail sales as squeezed shoppers cut back on spending.

As well as challenging trading, the firm said sales were hit by the closure of 22 concessions in Homebase during the period.

However, Laura Ashley said online sales are heading in the right direction, and its international expansion into India and China is making good progress.