Tough trading conditions and new store openings have driven Laura Ashley’s like-for-like sales down by nearly 10% over the past five months, the company announced today.

Laura Ashley, which has 231 stores in the UK, said the sales were down 9.9% for the five months until 13 December, compared with the same period last year.

It said part of the reason for this was the effect of new store openings on its existing stores. Laura Ashley has opened nine stores in the period and closed three.

‘Although the outlook remains extremely challenging, we will continue to focus on increasing revenue generation through our various channels, improving operational efficiencies, differentiating our product offering and continuing our store realignment programme subject to our stringent property selection criteria,’ a statement from the company said.

‘As a result of these actions, we expect trading to be broadly in line with the board's expectations.’