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Laura Ashley losses widen, dividend scrapped

Thu 20 February 2020 10:43 | A A A

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(Sharecast News) - Laura Ashley reported a widening of its interim losses on Thursday as sales fell and the struggling retailer scrapped its dividend.

In the 26 weeks to the end of December, losses before tax but after exceptional items widened to €4m from €1.5m the year before as total group sales fell to €109.6m from €122.9m.

The wider losses were attributed to lower home furnishings sales and to revenue disruption caused by the change in its Japanese franchise partner. The drop in revenue was put down to the closure of three stores and weaker consumer confidence.

Total like-for-like sales declined 10.4% and the company said it was not recommending the payment of an interim dividend.

Chairman Andrew Khoo said: "Over the past year there have been well documented market challenges facing the retail sector. Similarly at Laura Ashley, we have seen a combination of factors impact our results, ranging from higher costs largely driven by the Brexit uncertainty, minimum wages and business rates increases.

"In the Autumn of 2019, we carried out a strategic review of the business to set the future direction of the company and return Laura Ashley to the great British brand that is known and cherished around the world. This review identified six areas of focus: improving our brand and customer strategy, accelerating digital, increasing store productivity, improving products and trading, growth opportunities, and focusing on our organization and culture."

On Wednesday, Laura Ashley announced that it had reached an emergency funding deal with US lender Wells Fargo.

At 1025 GMT, the shares were up 14% at 2.16p.

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