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Laura Ashley sees Asia as its best hope for survival

Fashion and home furnishings brand Laura Ashley will close 40 stores in the UK as it prepares to expand into the Chinese market.

The firm has already gone through a round of 40 closures since 2015 against flagging interest from British consumers, which has seen a reported 14 shops closing every day in the territory.

Laura Ashley runs a regional office in Singapore focused purely on e-commerce into China, with plans to look at physical stores rollout after establishing a significant foothold in digital retail there.

According to Khoo, the company is “moving to Asia in a much bigger way”.

The brand is wholly owned by Malayan United Industries (MUI), which is currently restructuring parts of its business and rationalising assets. The brand will be expanding the 120 British Laura Ashley stores that remain following the closures to better showcase the brand.

MUI’s executive chairman Andrew Khoo Boo Yeow said: “It doesn’t really matter if [customers] buy online or offline, we just want them to get inspired … It’s a challenging environment and it could become more challenging”.

In Australia, the remaining 16 Laura Ashley stores will close this month after the company failed to find a buyer for the business, which was run under a licence. It was placed in administration for the second time in two years on December 3.

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