Belfast Telegraph

Laura Ashley in second profits upgrade

Fashion and furnishings chain Laura Ashley has said full-year profits were 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.

Brokers Numis Securities today raised its full-year profit forecast from £15.8m to £18m.

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 retailer, which has 233 franchise stores overseas, also aims to expand in new regions, including China and Russia.

The company traces its origins back to 1953, when Laura and Bernard Ashley printed fabric on their kitchen table in London.