Sep 8, 2011
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Laura Ashley defies high street gloom, ups dividend

Sep 8, 2011

Sept 8 (Reuters) - British fashion and homewares retailer Laura Ashley Holdings Plc said it was on track to meet its expectations for the year after doubling the interim dividend, and reported a 28 percent rise in first-half adjusted pretax profit.

Laura Ashley
Auto club fashion collection from Laura Ashley

The furniture-clothing company said on Thursday that all its product categories except home accessories showed positive like-for-like sales growth in the period.

"While the consumer environment continues to be uncertain, we remain confident for the remainder of the year," the company said in a statement.

British retail sales in August fell 0.6 percent on a like-for-like basis as cash-strapped consumers bought fewer non-essential items such as homeware or furniture.

For the 26 weeks to end-July, the pretax profit before exceptional charges came in at 7.3 million pounds ($11.6 million), compared with 5.7 million pounds last year. Revenue was nearly flat at 135.3 million pounds.

The company declared an interim dividend of 1 pence.

Laura Ashley shares, which have lost a fifth of their value over the past three months, closed at 18.5 pence on Wednesday on the London Stock Exchange, valuing the firm at about 130 million pounds. ($1 = 0.627 British Pounds) (Reporting by Tresa Sherin Morera in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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