Laura Ashley returns to UK high street after deal with Next

Laura Ashley is to return to the UK high street next year in a new partnership with Next – which will sell its homeware products – and with a series of new stores.

The embattled clothing and home furnishings retailer will reintroduce its homeware via Next’s over 500 UK stores and website – operating in over 70 countries – from spring 2021. A Laura Ashley-branded flagship store is also planned for the Westfield shopping centre in west London, followed by others elsewhere in the UK.

The company became the first major retailer to go into administration this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 67-year-old brand announced it would permanently close 70 stores in mid-March, with plans to cut 268 office jobs and furlough more than 1,500 workers.

Its bosses hired PwC to advise on the administration process, blaming the impact of coronavirus for tipping it over the edge. The investment firm Gordon Brothers acquired Laura Ashley out of administration in a deal that included its global brand, archives and related intellectual property.

Laura Ashley will relaunch under Gordon Brothers in a new partnership with a UK team of designers continuing to “fly the flag” for the British heritage brand.

“We believe the combination of the design vision of the Laura Ashley team alongside Next’s online and retail infrastructure can combine to revitalise this world-class brand,” said Next’s chief executive. Lord Wolfson.

Poppy Marshall-Lawton, the head of brand and partnerships at Laura Ashley, said the company’s late founder, Laura Ashley, “was always inspired by the past but excited about the future, so getting the chance to reinvigorate the brand is a perfect new chapter in our already fabulous story.”

The Guardian

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