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Sixty-three per cent online growth recorded by Laura Ashley

13 September 2010 - 13:09 by David Aiken

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The online outlet of high street chain Laura Ashley has seen a dramatic increase in sales, having risen by nearly two thirds in the first half of 2010.

E-commerce expansion was a contributing factor in the firm's 7.3 per cent leap in overall sales, which grew to £135.1 million.

In a statement a Laura Ashley spokesperson explained that a boost in total sales was largely the result of its growing online presence, although its high street locations were also able to up sales.

The online revenue generated in the first six months of the year was £15.4 million, or nearly two thirds more than it had been in the same period in 2009. Laura Ashley recorded a notable decline in the number of its customers who used its mail order service to buy products and so it can actively match this to the increase in those using safe shopping online to get their goods delivered.

Laura Ashley has taken the advice of many experts and branched out into international delivery via its e-commerce site, with various EU nations eligible for overseas dispatch, including Italy, Germany and Switzerland.

Laura Ashley said that it had been able to capture more consumers with its online offering and claimed that while sales of clothing were certainly the main draw, its bespoke furniture production service was also proving to be a big success.

Six Laura Ashley high street locations were closed down in a deliberate reduction by the firm in 2010, leaving 225 still operating in the UK.

2009 was a tough year for Laura Ashley and like many of its rivals, it only just scraped a profit.  But, happily, things are back on track in 2010, with £5.7 million taken in before tax in the first half and with safe shopping online playing its part in returning the firm to significant profitability.