Laura Ashley shares surge revives interest in iconic brand

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Laura Ashley shares surge revives interest in iconic brand


Photo: PA
Photo: PA

The long-time Malaysian backer of iconic floral fashions and furniture brand Laura Ashley got a little relief yesterday as the shares soared on results that provided a rare ray of light for the UK.

Shares shot up much as 36pc, but at a price of 5.88 pence each it is still worth only a small fraction of when the business was last in vogue with investors in the mid-1990s.

Having spent the past two decades largely treading water, some analysts wonder why millionaire chairman and main shareholder Khoo Kay-Peng, pictured, has persevered with its listed status in London.

“It is unclear why the Malaysian company that controls Laura Ashley still keeps its UK listing,” Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst said.

Asked about Laura Ashley’s ownership, chief financial officer and co-chief operating officer Sean Anglim said Khoo has always maintained the listing, adding: “I don’t think there are any plans to change it.”

Staying public means the company is required to publish detailed financial results every six months, he noted.

Earnings released on Wednesday included 9.7pc growth in like-for-like fashion sales in the year ended June 30.

Since listing in London during the brand’s heyday in 1985, Laura Ashley has lost favour with most investors.

A failed US expansion saw the share price collapse by 1997, prompting Malaysia’s MUI Group to buy a 40pc holding in April 1998.

Bloomberg

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