Laura Ash­ley shares surge re­vives in­ter­est in iconic brand

Irish Independent - Business Week - - Front Page - Lisa Pham and Lucca de Paoli

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 mid1990s.

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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