Outlook grim for Laura Ashley manufacturing arm

City analysts believe Laura Ashley is about to hive off its manufacturing operation. Laura Ashley chief executive Ann Iverson is expected to unveil the company’s long-term plans tomorrow (Thursday), together with the company’s interim results.

NatWest Securities analyst Sean Eddie says Iverson’s bias towards retailing is reflected in the four resignations over the past three months.

At the moment, the company is looking for a product group director to replace Stephen Grant, who announced his resignation last week.

No staffing decisions have been made since the departure of finance director Geoffrey Haslehurst earlier in the month. Richard Wakeling, a non-executive director, left last month.

Eddie says it is likely the manufacturing operation of Laura Ashley will be relocated from Wales to Asia.

A spokeswoman for Laura Ashley says there will be an announcement on Thursday.

Brokers for Laura Ashley, Kleinwort Benson, could not comment on what to expect. However, Kleinwort analyst Catherine Wynne says “there are no sacred cows under Ann Iverson”.

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