Boost in home sales at Laura Ashley pushes profits up 15%

Laura Ashley Image copyright Laura Ashley
Image caption Laura Ashley opened its second boutique hotel in July in Bowness-on-Windermere.

The Welsh design company Laura Ashley has reported a 15% rise in profits, after success in its home range compensated for disappointing sales in fashion and furniture.

Online purchases of home accessories, particularly lighting, and strong international sales lifted half-year pre-tax profit to £8.5m.

The firm also said like-for-like sales were up 8% in the five weeks to August.

The news lifted shares nearly 9% to 27.50p in mid-morning trade.

Laura Ashley's chief financial officer Sean Anglim said in a statement: "We've launched our new-season home furnishing range ... particularly on the decorating space, and that's critical to our success in the second half. And the acceptance so far has been good."

The company has 208 stores in the UK and is best known for its floral textile prints. The brand lost popularity in the late nineties and was bought by a Malaysian owner.

It turned its focus from fashion to homeware in the early 2000s.

Freddie George, analyst at the financial brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald said: "The interim results were better than our expectations, while the trading update for the latest six weeks in [the second half] is very encouraging."

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