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By February 18, 2020 Read More →

AGENDA WEST Business News: another day another retailer in trouble with Laura Ashley on the brink of collapse as the owners meet with their lenders after the stores lost millions last year

High Street stalwart Laura Ashley is on the brink of collapse as crisis talks take place with its malasian owners due to a slim in sales and a falling market share.

Jasper Jolly writing in The Guardian reported: “The company, which is listed in the UK, said it would have to “consider all appropriate options” if it could not get hold of more cash, raising fears for the jobs of more than 2,700 workers.

“MUI Asia, which is controlled by the multimillionaire shareholder Khoo Kay Peng, and Wells Fargo are trying to reach an agreement over Laura Ashley’s funding requirements in the short to medium term.

The firm was begun on a kitchen table in the London flat of Laura Ashley back in 1953. Now there are 155 stores in the UK employing 2,700 staff and supplied by a wide range of companies all of whom are hoping the business remains afloat. The owners are locked in talks with their lenders after it lost £14.3m last year to June 30.

It’s not the first time the fashion retailer has struggled. In 1985 the founder and driving force Laura Ashley died following a fall leaving her husband Bernard to continue the business. He turned it into a plc but without her it soon ran into trouble as competition increased and production issues blighted a major expansion. The problems go worse and so a new CEO was installed in the American Dr Maxmin who began to turn things around. However he left over differences with Bernard and once again the firm began to founder. In 1998 MUI Asia became the main shareholder hoping expansion in Asia would bring a new era. Things picked up until the Credit Crunch of 2007-2008. The Australian branch also struggled and eventually crashed with the UK company closing 40 stores in 2018.

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For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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