Sep 10, 2010
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Laura Ashley profit jumps as consumers return

Sep 10, 2010

Sept 10 (Reuters) - British fashion and home wares retailer Laura Ashley Plc (ALY.L) posted a 10-fold jump in first-half profit as demand picked up across its businesses, and doubled its interim dividend.

Laura Ashley

However, the furniture-clothing firm said on Friday it remained cautious for the remainder of the year as consumer environment continued to be uncertain.

For the 26 weeks to end-July, pretax profit rose to 10.5 million pounds ($16.2 million). It recorded a 4.8 million -pound gain for the period primarily from selling and leasing back a freehold property.

Total revenue grew 5.7 percent to 135.1 million pounds, while like-for-like sales were up 6.2 percent.

"In a difficult economic climate, Laura Ashley ... has recorded positive like-for-like sales growth across all product categories," Chairman K P Khoo said in a statement.

Shares in Laura Ashley, which have lost almost a quarter of their value over the past one year as consumers curbed spending amid a recession, closed at 12.75 pence on Thursday on the London Stock Exchange.

($1=.6480 POUND) (Reporting by Tresa Sherin Morera in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)

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