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Laura Ashley to axe 268 jobs following administration

The retailer said it will permanently close 70 stores after it drafted in insolvency specialists.

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Laura Ashley in Knutsford, Cheshire (Martin Rickett/PA)

Laura Ashley in Knutsford, Cheshire (Martin Rickett/PA)

Laura Ashley in Knutsford, Cheshire (Martin Rickett/PA)

Laura Ashley is to cut 268 jobs after the fashion retailer slid into administration last week.

Administrators for the high street firm said the redundancies will mainly affect staff in its headquarters and back office roles.

It comes after the retailer announced last week that it will permanently close 70 stores, after filing for administration.

It said at the time that 721 workers were at risk, but the majority of these are now due to be furloughed.

Laura Ashley hired PwC to advise on the administration process as it blamed the impact of coronavirus for tipping it over the edge.

We have had a large number of interested parties speak with usRob Lewis, joint administrator

The administrators told the PA news agency that they have had held talks with potential bidders over the sale of part or whole of the company.

Laura Ashley said on Tuesday that it plans to furlough 1,669 staff in line with Government guidelines, while 677 people will continue to work for the business as normal.

Staff are continuing to run the retailer’s online operations, in line with guidance over social distancing, it said.

PwC added that is anticipated all stores will reopen, when guidance permits, for a period of time, either because the stores form part of a sale or to sell off remaining stock.

Rob Lewis, joint administrator for the company, told PA: “We have had a large number of interested parties speak with us.

“The process will take as long as it needs but we will let staff know as soon as we have an outcome.

“Laura Ashley is a really strong brand in the UK and internationally, so there is obviously interest.”

The administration came after a challenging period for the clothing and furnishings brand, which saw pre-tax losses balloon to £4 million in 2019.

PA