Laura Ashley expects profits boost

Laura Ashley expects profits boost

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Fashion and furnishings chain Laura Ashley has said full-year profits are set to be 'significantly higher' than expectations

Fashion and furnishings chain Laura Ashley has said full-year profits are set to be “significantly higher” than expectations as it shrugged off the impact of the severe weather.

It is the second upgrade in the space of a month from the retailer, which said in mid-December that its full-year profits would top expectations.

In the wake of a strong like-for-like performance over Christmas and early January, the company issued a short statement upping its forecasts even further. Shares surged more than 20% after the announcement.

The group, which has 221 stores in the UK and Ireland, posted like-for-like sales growth of 2.7% in the 19 weeks to December 11. The company will announce its full-year results for the year to January 29 at the end of March.

Broker Numis Securities has raised its full-year profit forecast from £15.8 million to £18 million.

Numis analyst Andrew Wade said Laura Ashley had “traded comfortably ahead of expectations through Christmas” and that shares were “too cheap given the clear momentum across the business”.

The retailer opened its first gift and accessories store at London’s Liverpool Street station last July and plans to roll out the concept to other locations this year. The chain has 233 franchise stores overseas and also aims to expand in new regions, including China, Indonesia and Russia.

The company traces its origins back to 1953 when Laura and Bernard Ashley started printing fabric on their kitchen table in London. The business floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1985.

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