Jobs face the axe in Yorkshire as Laura Ashley falls into administration

Staff at a dozen Laura Ashley stores in Yorkshire could lose their jobs after rescue talks were halted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 12:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 1:10 pm
A woman wearing a face mask walking past a Laura Ashley store Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The troubled retailer filed for administration on Tuesday, putting 2,700 jobs at risk.

There are stores in Northallerton, Skipton and Ilkley, as well as at Meadowhall; Moor Allerton Centre, Leeds; Monks Cross, York; Wakefield; Harrogate; Beverley and Hull

The retailer had been in talks with stakeholders over refinancing, but it said its "revised cash flow forecasts and increased uncertainty" mean it will not be able to secure these funds in sufficient time.

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Largest shareholder Mui Asia said it was unable to support the retailer with "financial support in the required timeframe".

Laura Ashley said it hired advisers from PwC to oversee the administration.

Earlier this week, it was reported that it was in discussions about the £15 million loan with private equity fund Hilco Capital to finance its immediate working capital requirements.

Laura Ashley said it had seen an upturn in sales in recent weeks, with trading up 24% year on year for the seven weeks to March 13.

However, it said the Covid-19 virus outbreak has "had an immediate and significant impact on trading, and ongoing developments indicate that this will be a sustained national situation".

The announcement comes after a challenging period for the clothing and furnishings brand, which saw pre-tax losses balloon to £4 million in 2019.

Sales for the year also plunged by 11% to £109.6 million for the year.

Shares in the company plummeted 68.9% to 0.3p in early trading on Tuesday. It has also asked for its shares to be suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange.