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Laura Ashley shares plunge 26% on profit warning

From BBC - February 15, 2018

Home furnishings and clothing retailer Laura Ashley has issued a profit warning after reporting disappointing Christmas trading figures.

It warned that full-year profits would be lower than expected because of "continued market challenges" and the weakening of the pound.

Like-for-like sales fell 0.5% for the 26 weeks to 31 December, while pre-tax profit nearly halved to 4.3m.

Its shares were down 26% at one point before recovering to stand down 4%.

However, Laura Ashley, which is owned by Malaysian firm Mui Group, saw online sales saw grow by 5.1% during the period.

Laura Ashley chairman Khoo Kay Peng said the retailer hoped the launch of a new digital platform in the second half of 2018 would help boost its offerings.

Licensing opportunities

The retailer's two UK boutique hotels reported steady growth of 1.2m for the period, while its Laura Ashley-furnished "Tea Room" model has also done well.

In July 2017, the retailer launched a new concept allowing hotels to open their own Laura Ashley-branded tea rooms, offering afternoon tea and decorated using Laura Ashley furnishings.

The first of these is at the Regency Hotel in Solihull near Birmingham.

'Not relevant'

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