LAURA ASHLEY RESTRUCTURE PLAN WILL SHUT ABOUT 40 U.S. STORES
LONDON — Laura Ashley Holdings PLC said Monday that it will close about 40 stores in the U.S. and shift U.S. merchandising and marketing to the U.K. as part of a restructuring aimed at restoring profitability and reinforcing the brand.
The closing of smaller shops and the opening of larger sites in the U.S. is a continuation of a policy announced last September.
Laura Ashley has about 200 outlets in the U.S. It plans to close about 40 shops — mostly in malls — that are nonprofitable or measuring under 1,500 square feet, and then open between 10 and 20 larger stores selling women’s wear, children’s wear and home furnishings.
The U.S. headquarters in Boston will be maintained, but only with a core staff of people who know the local market. All merchandising, marketing and MIS departments will be either closed or transferred to Maidenhead, U.K., headquarters. This will result in about 50 senior management and administration staff people losing their jobs. With other moves in Europe, about 150 additional jobs will be cut.
As a result of the moves, the firm will take a charge of about $54.6 million (35 million pounds), which will result in a net loss of $18.7 million (12 million pounds).
The firm said the loss will be virtually offset by the savings in annual overhead of $15.6 million (10 million pounds). — Fairchild News Service