Business

Laura Ashley reveals ballooning loss after emergency funding deal

Laura Ashley's pre-tax loss of £4m last year was more than twice its £1.5m loss in 2018. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA

LOSSES at struggling high street retailer Laura Ashley have ballooned after a tough year, the business said, just days after warning that revenue would also tumble as it sought emergency funding.

Loss before tax hit £4m in 2019, much more than twice its £1.5m loss the year before. Sales were £109.6m, a nearly 11 per cent fall that was signalled earlier this week.

Laura Ashley has four stores in Northern Ireland.

Chairman Andrew Khoo said: "There have been market challenges for our business which have impacted these results during the current financial year. The decline in total revenue was due to the market headwinds and weaker consumer spending during the period, which led to a decline in sales of bigger ticket items."

Concerns were raised over the future of the retailer earlier this week when it said its main shareholder, MUI Asia Limited, was in last-ditch talks with lender Wells Fargo over the terms of a £20m loan.

Poor performance at the business has caused Wells Fargo to tighten the purse strings.

But on Wednesday the firm was able to reassure shareholders that Laura Ashley could use the loan to run its daily operations.

"The group should be able to utilise requisite funds from its working capital facility with Wells Fargo to meet its immediate funding requirements," Mr Khoo said.

"Whilst these results are disappointing, we believe that, with the right focus and support, Laura Ashley has a strong future and can be successful again.

"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 includes reconnecting with our traditional values and our strong British heritage."

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