Falling sales sees retailer launch hunt for funding

Credit: Neil Owen/Geograph

Fashion and home retailer Laura Ashley, which has at least a dozen stores across Yorkshire, saw its shares slide 41% after reporting it was in talks with its lender about accessing enough money to continue trading.

The business said if it could not get the necessary amount of funding, it would need to “consider all appropriate options”.

It said trading continued to be “challenging”, with sales falling by nearly 11% in the second half of 2019. And the company blamed “Market headwinds” and weaker consumer spending for a slump in sales of larger, more expensive items.

Chairman Andrew Khoo said: “We acknowledge that recent trading conditions, in line with the overall UK retail market, have indeed been challenging.

“The major shareholders have indicated their continued confidence in the business and are fully supportive of the management team and execution of the transformation plan.”

In late 2018 the retailer said it intended to shut 40 stores across the UK as part of a restructuring plan.

Its total group sales fell 10.8% to £109.6m in the second half of 2019.

Laura Ashley used to be a prominent name on the UK high street but has struggled to stay relevant.  The firm was founded in 1953 and over the last five years its share price has fallen over 90%.