Laura Ashley’s Irish stores to remain open - sources

As many as 721 jobs could be lost as retailer moves to close 70 UK stores

Laura Asehly said on Monday that 70 of its UK stores will close, leading to the loss of as many as 721 jobs.  Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Laura Asehly said on Monday that 70 of its UK stores will close, leading to the loss of as many as 721 jobs. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

 

Laura Ashley’s six stores in the Republic will remain open, The Irish Times understands, as the company fights for survival after the coronavirus exacerbated a recent downturn in profitability.

The home retailer said on Monday that 70 of its UK stores will close, leading to the loss of as many as 721 jobs.

The company could not spell out what would happen in the future for its Irish stores, but they will remain open for the immediate future at least, The Irish Times has learned.

In a statement issued by Laura Ashley Plc on Monday, the company said that it will file documents to a British court to appoint Rob Lewis and Zelf Hussain of PwC as administrators. They will have control over the ultimate parent company as well as the Irish operation – Laura Ashley Ireland Limited – and that application is expected to be approved by the close of business on Monday, the company said.

The application to appoint administrators comes after the fashion and furnishings retailer announced its intention to file for administration last week. A host of retailers, including Pennys and Ikea, have announced temporary store closures in the face of the pandemic.

Continue to operate

Accounts filed for the year to the end of June for the Irish operation show that although the business was lossmaking, directors were confident on its future. “The directors have a reasonable expectation that the group has adequate resources to continue to operate for the foreseeable future,” they said in a going concern note.

Revenue for the period fell by more than €1 million to €7.7 million, however, while a loss before tax of €73,913 was recorded. The company employed an average of 72 staff throughout the 12 month period.

“I remain unwavering in my belief that Laura Ashley can and should retain the place it deserves in the international retail landscape,” the company’s chief executive, Katharine Poulter, said.

“Unfortunately, we will lose some brilliant people through no fault of their own. However, I remain hopeful there is a buyer out there who shares my vision and can see the enormous potential of this iconic British brand that is known and loved around the world.”

Laura Ashley has retail stores based in the UK, the Republic and France and franchise and licensee operations across the world in 25 territories. In total, British entity controls 154 stores and 77 of those will remain open in the UK as will its online operation. – Additional reporting: PA