Laura Ashley blames sales drop on volatile weather

Fashion and furnishings chain Laura Ashley today blamed the prolonged cold snap and subsequent heatwave for a 5.6 per cent drop in first-half sales.

The retailer said total sales for the six months to 27 July fell to £137.3 million, from £145.4m a year ago, pre-tax profits down 10.8 per cent to £7.4m.

Chairman Khoo Kay Peng said: “The first half of 2013 has proved to be a challenging one for us. A period of prolonged cold weather impacted fashion sales as customers continued to wear winter clothing and did not buy into spring/summer ranges later in the season.

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“The subsequent switch into a long spell of very hot weather, particularly throughout July, had a negative impact on home furnishing sales.”

The interim dividend, to be paid on 30 October, was maintained at 1p a share.

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Khoo said Laura Ashley’s performance has traditionally been weighted towards the second half of the year and the business remained “confident in both the quality of our product ranges and the underlying strength of our brand”.