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Wednesday, June 9, 1999 Published at 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK

Business: The Company File

US preacher quits Laura Ashley

The Ashley family wanted the US preacher out

Controversial TV evangelist Pat Robertson has resigned from the board of UK fashion and fabric retailer Laura Ashley.

His departure from the firm, until recently based in Wales, came five days after Bank of Scotland severed its links with him.

[ image: Laura Ashley has severed its ties with Robertson]
Laura Ashley has severed its ties with Robertson
Both departures follow his comments that Scotland was "a dark land" overrun by homosexuals.

At the group's annual general meeting last week some members of the Ashley family voted against the preacher remaining on the board.

Bernard Ashley, widower of the chain's founder Laura, retains a stake in the struggling group.

Ashley threatened

The evangelist made his controversial comments on his US television show.

Following a public outcry and protests from customers Bank of Scotland terminated a telephone banking joint venture it was planning in the US with his business empire, Robertson Financial Services.

Earlier this week gay rights activist group Outrage! threatened to take unspecified action against Laura Ashley if Mr Robertson remained on the board.

Laura Ashley appointed Mr Robertson as a non-executive director in January, saying he would help the struggling retailer to overcome years of seemingly intractable difficulties.

He owns more than two million shares in the group.

Laura Ashley, famous for its floral printed fabrics, was one of the brighter UK retail stars in the 1970s and 1980s.

But management problems and an ill-fated expansion into America have savaged profits in the 1990s.

A succession of chief executives have come and gone - eight since the death of Laura Ashley in 1985 - as have hundreds of jobs in its mid-Wales heartland.

But its performance has continued to decline to the extent that earlier this year it sold its chain of stores in the US for $1.

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