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Laura Ashley in profit alert as sales drop

By Holly Williams

Fashion and homeware retailer Laura Ashley has warned over full-year profits after being hit by falling sales and surging costs.

It revealed a 29% drop in pre-tax profits to £7.8m for the six months to December 31.

Retail sales over its first half, including key Christmas trading, fell 3.5% on a like-for-like basis, putting it on a shortened list of losers over what was a robust festive season elsewhere on the high street.

Shares in the group tumbled 11% as Laura Ashley alerted over profits amid tough trading, with like-for-like sales still in the red since the start of 2017 - down 0.6% in the six weeks to February 11.

Chairman Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Peng said: "Trading conditions have been demanding in the first six months of the year.

"The board have reviewed the first half results and forecasts for the remainder of the year to June 30, 2017 and, given the continued market challenges, feels that net pre-tax profit for the year will fall below market expectations."

The group said profits were also hit by rising costs after the pound's plunge in value.

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