Laura Ashley files for administration

Laura Ashley at Westwood

Retailer Laura Ashley, which has a branch at Westwood, has filed for administration.

Across the UK some 2700 jobs are at risk as the business becomes the first retail victim of the coronavirus outbreak.

The business had been in talks with company Hillco Capital in efforts to get an emergency loan but has not been able to secure this.

The business said the coronavirus crisis had “an immediate and significant impact on trading.”

Administrators PwC have been called in. Laura Ashley has 150 stores in the UK.

A statement from the company says: “Further to the company’s announcement on  March 13, the company has continued to closely monitor the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and has reviewed its immediate cashflow forecasts.

“For the seven weeks up to 13th March, trading for the Laura Ashley business improved by 24% year-on-year and the directors were encouraged by this strong performance.  However, the COVID-19 outbreak has had an immediate and significant impact on trading, and ongoing developments indicate that this will be a sustained national situation.

“Discussions with stakeholders have been ongoing and the directors are in advanced discussions for the provision of third-party debt funding.  However, based on the Company’s revised cashflow forecasts and the increased uncertainty facing the Group, the Company expects that it will not be in a position to draw down additional funds from third party lenders in a timely manner sufficient to support working capital requirements. MUI Asia Limited has confirmed that it is unable to provide financial support in the required timeframe.

“The directors of the Company, its key trading subsidiary (Laura Ashley Limited), Premier Home Logistics Limited, Laura Ashley Investments Limited, and Texplan Manufacturing Limited, have concluded that all available alternative options have been explored and therefore, in order to protect creditors, it is necessary to file a notice of intention to appoint administrators in respect of the Company and each of the named subsidiaries.

“Accordingly, the Company regrets to announce that the directors of the Company, and of the named subsidiaries, have today filed notices of intention to appoint Robert Lewis and Zelf Hussain as administrators.”

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at, said: “After many months of speculation the fears of Laura Ashley’s UK staff and loyal customers have been confirmed, as administrators have been instructed to take over the business.

“It’s sad but not surprising news, as we know they are one of the many household high street brands that have struggled to make ends meet in the current retail climate.

“Clearly COVID-19 has had a role to play here too, with potential customers worried about going out and doing non-essential shopping – the fashion and homeware chain has even said it has filed for administration after rescue talks were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s undoubtedly distressing news for employees of Laura Ashley and their families especially in such worrying times. Now is the time to check what redundancy rights you have and dig out any income or mortgage protection policies you hold, just in case.

“It’s currently unknown whether or not Laura Ashley will honour gift vouchers and refunds now administrators have been called in. It isn’t illegal for them to refuse refunds so if you were hoping to return any goods you may be in for a lengthy battle to get your money back.”