Home furnishings and fashion retailer Laura Ashley said half year pre-tax profit increased nearly 14 per cent and while it remains mindful of the tough retail it is confident of further progress in the second half.
Pre-tax profit increased to £8.3m for the 26 weeks to 28 July 2012 from £7.3m the year before. Total group sales climbed to £145.4m during the period from £135.3m before.
UK like-for-like sales were up 3.9% during the period and for the 32 weeks to 8 September like for like sales grew 4.2%.
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Total UK retail sales rose 6.1% to £127.5m and franchise revenues increased 15% to £13.7m during the 26-week period.
Its international franchising operations continue to grow with two additional stores opened in Russia during the first half and with more store openings in Japan, Taiwan and Australia, adding to its 263 franchised stores in 29 territories worldwide. It said it continues to seek new partners in Asian, South American and European territories.
Licensing income increased by 11% to £2m while reported e-Commerce revenue grew 21.4%. Non-store revenue increased 18.7%.
"As we enter the second half of the year, we have seen the momentum of the first half of the year maintained with UK like-for-like sales growth of 4.2%. While we remain mindful of the broader consumer environment and its challenges, we are confident that this progress can be maintained," the group said.
The group has £27.8m net cash and the interim dividend has been maintained at 1p per share.
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