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Laura Ashley sells Singapore assets but still focused on Asia

Malaysian-headquartered apparel and homewares retailer Laura Ashley is selling its commercial property in Singapore against declining sales – but it remains positive about its regional prospects.

The firm’s full year results announced a fall in profits from £8.4 million (US$10.8 million) last year to £5.6 million ($7.2 million) this year. Total sales for the group also declined to £257.2 million ($332 million) compared to £277 million ($357 million) in 2017. Conversely, online sales increased to make up 25 per cent of total retail revenue.

Company chairman Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Peng said: “As set out at the time of the interim results, the trading environment for the first half of the year was challenging and the board expected these difficult trading conditions to continue into the second half of the year. This proved to be the case and, given the softer trading environment for the year ended June 30, 2018, we are disappointed to report a fall in profits.”

The company’s Singapore properties will be purchased by SB Investment for a cash consideration of SGD54.5 million (US$39 million), conditional on shareholder approval.

Peng commented: “Although the proposed sale has led to an impairment charge for the group, on completion of the disposal, group net debt will be significantly reduced and cash flow will be strengthened.”

Despite the sale, expansion into the Asian market continues to be Laura Ashley’s strategy for the region.

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