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Laura Ashley profits on track; In association with BUSINESS ...VENTURE.

FASHION and home furnishings firm Laura Ashley stuck by City profit forecasts yesterday, despite a 7.6% fall in like-for-like sales since January.

The company said the year-on-year decline was better than the 8.8% drop reported in March and was accompanied by stronger margins. Total sales were up 7.9% following the opening of 12 new stores in the 17-week period.

Laura Ashley, which operates more than 200 stores across the UK, said it was on track to meet profit forecasts.

Numis Securities issued a note in March forecasting pre-tax profits of pounds 18.1mfor the current financial year, up from pounds 15.8m a year earlier.

Around half of Laura Ashley stores sell its entire product range covering home accessories, furniture, decorating and fashion.

It blamed the samestore sales dip on uncertainty arising from the current economic climate and its impact on consumer spending.

But the group added: "Despite the difficult trading outlook anticipated for the period ahead, we expect our profit before tax for the financial year ending 31 January 2009 to be broadly in line with forecasts."
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 29, 2008
Words:181
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