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Laura Ashley Profit Falls 14 Percent

October 9, 1990

LONDON (AP) _ Troubled retailer Laura Ashley Holdings PLC said Tuesday its earnings fell 14 percent in the first half of the year because of poor retailing conditions and a sharp increase in interest charges.

The retailer of English country-style women’s clothing and furnishings said its earnings for the six months ended July 28 fell to 3.6 million pounds, or $6.1 million, from 4.2 million pounds, or $6.9 million, in the same period a year earlier.

Earnings per share came to 0.02 pence, or 0.03 cent, compared with 2.09 pence, or 3.4 cents, a year earlier.

Sales rose 30 percent to 173.9 million pounds, or $296 million, from 134.2 million pounds, or $221 million.

The company’s results reflected a one-time gain of 3.6 million pounds, or $6.1 million, from the 4.8 million pound, or $8.2 million, sale of its perfumery Penhaligon’s Ltd. to the U.S. retailer Limited Inc.

The retailer said its performance in Britain was affected by a slowdown in both home furnishing and clothing sales, company said.

The company’s continental Europe stores had a more positive performance, and U.S. sales improved, it said.

The company said its interest charges more than doubled to 7.03 million pounds, or $12 million, reflecting the surge in British rates over the past year.

The firm said it would not pay a half-year dividend.

Chairman Bernard Ashley said the company’s recent cost-cutting measures ensure it is ″well-placed to withstand the current trading environment.″

Last month, the company announced it would sell or close seven factories in Britain and cut 1,500 jobs.

The figures announced Tuesday were converted at the company-provided exchange rates of $1.70 to the pound for the latest period, and $1.65 for the period a year ago.

The company did not break out quarterly results. It is not required to do so under British law.

10-09-90 1415EDT