Homeware and clothing retailer, Laura Ashley has announced it is to close 40 UK stores as it expands its Chinese business.
Laura Ashley has already closed 40 UK stores since 2015 with owners Malayan United Industries (MUI) planning to reduce its UK presence to 120 stores. The group then wants to expand the existing stores once closures are complete. The firm said it would look at moving staff from any affected stores to larger outlets.
MUI CEO, Andrew Khoo Boo Yeow, said earlier this month that he expects to see restructuring of the company and rationalising of its assets across the next two years. Khoo said restructuring at Laura Ashley was about “showcasing the brand”, adding that it didn’t matter if customers shopped online or offline, saying “we just want them to get inspired”.
Khoo described the current retail environment as “challenging” and added that he believed “it could become more challenging”. According to Khoo Laura Ashley was “moving to Asia in a much bigger way”, via a roll out of physical stores once the brand gained a “significant foothold in digital retail in China”.
A Laura Ashley spokesperson, told Retail Sector: “Laura Ashley’s new Chairman has outlined his vision for the brand, which includes significant expansion in Asia, including opening bricks and mortar stores in China. As part of this vision Laura Ashley will continue to review its store portfolio for the long term. There is no timetable for store closures and no list has been prepared.”
In August, Laura Ashley announced that its profits had fell to £100,000 due to “difficult trading conditions”.