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LAURA ASHLEY HOLDINGS ANNOUNCES INTERIM RESULTS FOR THE 26 WEEKS ENDED JULY 25, 1992

 LAURA ASHLEY HOLDINGS ANNOUNCES INTERIM RESULTS
 FOR THE 26 WEEKS ENDED JULY 25, 1992
 NEW YORK, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Laura Ashley Holdings plc today reported results for the 26 weeks ended July 25, 1992. Profit before tax was 1.7 million pounds sterling compared with 0.5 million pounds in the comparable period last year, resulting in earnings per share of 0.40p (1991: 0.12p).
 Despite severe economic conditions, the group achieved or exceeded gross profit objectives in both home furnishings and garments in every market, with the sole exception of garments in North America. Cost reduction programs are yielding the anticipated results. The Federal Express Strategic Alliance, under which Federal Express is restructuring and managing the flow of goods and information for the company, began on schedule and is proceeding in line with original expectations. Recently, additional steps have been taken to strengthen the group's design function and to further improve the quality and caliber of the buying organization. Control of cash remains strong with net borrowings at 6.5 million pounds (13.4 million pounds last year).
 Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Jim Maxmin said, "We are making excellent progress in the U.K. and Europe, demonstrating the fundamental strength of the Laura Ashley brand."
 Dr. Maxmin added, "During the last six months, management focused on targeted cost reductions and improvements in efficiency, with particular attention to improving the levels of gross margin rather than chasing unprofitable sales. We believe a solid foundation is in place and remain convinced of the growth and profit potential of the Laura Ashley brand."
 United Kingdom Retail
 In the first half, rapid progress was made in turning around the U.K. retail business. Although garment sales declined by 14.5 percent compared with 1991, gross profit was down by less than 3 percent with almost all of the sales decline occurring during the traditional "sale" period in July. Margins also improved in home furnishings.
 Since the end of the first half, U.K. retail has performed extremely well, reflecting the sound retail practices that are being implemented across the business. Sales in the first seven weeks of the second half have been 15 percent ahead of last year, with sales of the new Autumn/Winter garment collection performing ahead of this level. Although the outlook for the economy remains depressed, the group expects the new U.K. management team to continue to make further progress throughout the rest of the year.
 Continental Europe Retail
 Continental Europe turned in another strong performance. Garment sales improved 7.9 percent and gross profit rose 14.2 percent compared to 1991. These gains continue a pattern established over the last two years. Home furnishings sales and gross profits were also ahead of last year.
 Continental Europe is continuing the strong growth pattern experienced during the first half. Operational efficiencies remain a priority and the group plans to open a limited number of new outlets during the next six months.
 North America Retail
 The half year saw rapid and fundamental change continue in the North American retail business. The group recruited a new senior management team and relocated the U.S. head office. The new management team had to address a number of historical operational and organizational problems against the background of a depressed retail environment. The North American business is clearly in a transitional period and consequently performed below its potential and original expectations in the first half. This trend has continued in August and September. Management's efforts are firmly focused on North America where a program has been initiated with the objective of improving retailing execution in order to capitalize on the strength of the brand. However, the group does not expect the North American retail business to make a profit this year.
 Associated Companies and Other Businesses
 Sales of Laura Ashley Japan increased 20 percent in a difficult trading environment. Associate company Revman continues to perform well in the U.S. bed linen market. During the first half, new table top and eye wear licenses came into effect in North America and further new licensing activity is planned for the second half of the year. The group will continue the strategy of widening the range of products designed to meet the lifestyle needs of the Laura Ashley customer worldwide, using whichever distribution channels customers find most convenient.
 Laura Ashley Holdings plc is a U.K.-based international designer and distributor of apparel, home furnishings, gifts and accessories. Founded in 1953, the company markets the Laura Ashley brand throughout the world. Laura Ashley has more than 500 retail outlets located in 28 countries.
 -0- 9/23/92 R
 /CONTACT: Jim Maxmin, Andrew Higginson or David Oliver of Laura Ashley Holdings, 011-44-71-736-6700, or Thomas C. Franco or Eileen M. Halsch of Broadgate Consultants, 212-229-2222, for Laura Ashley Holdings/ CO: Laura Ashley Holdings plc ST: IN: REA SU: ERN


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Date:Sep 23, 1992
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