Home furnishings-to-fashion retailer Laura Ashley has announced plans to reduce the number of UK stores from 160 to 120, as part of a fresh growth strategy by the chain’s owner.
Growth in China is to be the priority, the group said. It, however, added that the plans were at an early stage and job losses would be kept to a minimum as it would enlarge many of the stores where it continued to operate.
Andrew Khoo – who took over as MUI chairman from his father Khoo Kay Peng last week, told media: “The direction I want to go is to have not so many stores, but maybe the ones we have could be larger. It’s more about showcasing the brand. It doesn’t really matter if they buy online or offline, we just want them to get inspired.”
“We’re moving to Asia in a much bigger way. “We have a regional office in Singapore, it’s a dedicated office of about 10 people and it’s focused purely on ecommerce into China.
“Once we get a significant foothold in digital retail in China we can look at the physical stores rollout.”
While Laura Ashley in the UK had seen some promising signs in the run-up to Christmas including an uptick in clothing sales, it has been slow to shift big-ticket items like furniture.