BANGALORE (Reuters) — Fashion and home wares retailer Laura Ashley Holdings Plc reported a nearly 15 percent rise in first-half pretax profit, helped by strong growth in online sales in the UK.
The company, known for its feminine and floral designs, also said like-for-like sales were up 8 percent in the five weeks to Aug. 30.
Laura Ashley stock rose as much as 11 percent, making it one of the top percentage gainers on the London Stock Exchange in early trading on Friday.
Pretax profit rose to 8.5 million pounds, or $13.9 million, in the 26 weeks to July 26 from 7.4 million pounds a year earlier. Like-for-like retail sales rose 1.2 percent.
Total group sales rose 4.9 percent to 144 million pounds, with e-commerce revenue increasing 6.1 percent to 22.5 million pounds during the period.
Laura Ashley said it opened two new stores in the first half of the year and shut three, giving the group a portfolio of 208 outlets in the U.K.
The company said franchise and licensing revenue grew by 13.6 percent to 17.1 million pounds in its overseas business. The company had 296 franchised stores in 32 countries at the end of the first half.