Laura Ashley in U-turn on Homebase outlets

The home furnishings division of Laura Ashley is reversing its previous decision to close concessions in Homebase stores, and is to open 30 outlets over the next few months.

The decision is a U-turn for the chain, which announced half yearly interim results this week. Laura Ashley had been reducing its presence in Homebase and over the past 12 months, it had closed 36 concessions, leaving just 68 units remaining.

The spokewoman for the company says the initiative follows “positive negotiations” with recent Homebase buyer Schroder Ventures. Homebase is being overhauled, with plans to introduce mezzanine floors in some outlets, to provide more attractive sites for Laura Ashley.

Laura Ashley is to test selling contemporary jewellery in 25 of its outlets, with a view to introducing the lines to all of its stores if successful.

The move is the second attempt by the retailer to break into the jewellery market, and will result in it competing head on with retailers such as Monsoon. The jewellery range will comprise bracelets, earrings and necklaces, with prices ranging from &£8 to &£15.

A spokeswoman for the retailer said that Laura Ashley has stocked some gold jewellery in certain stores for a few years with “some success”.

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