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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 September, 2004, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Laura Ashley cuts 90 jobs
Laura Ashley
In April this year the company reported full-year profits of 3.1m
Furniture and clothing chain Laura Ashley is to make up to 90 people redundant at two of its factories in mid Wales.

The company - best known for its floral fabrics - says the job losses in Newtown and Carno come after a review of its operating costs.

It hopes to make the redundancies over the next four to five weeks.

Last year, the firm said jobs would not be affected after its decision to close most of its branches in Europe.

The mayor of Newtown, Les Skilton, said the news of the latest job losses had come as a shock.

'Out of the blue'

"It's something out of the blue," he said.

"I didn't expect anything like this to have happened. There's going to be a lot of upset, especially with the unemployment that there is now.

"The school leavers have just finished and are looking for jobs after their exams."

Conservative AM for mid and west Wales, Glyn Davies, said he was "surprised" because the firm's financial situation, he said, seemed to be improving.

"We've also had assurances that all the jobs in the area were safe as well. It doesn't seem logical," he said.

The review is part of a cost reduction programme which has been in place over the past 18 months
Company statement
"To me it just doesn't seem to make sense.

"I just hope that through discussions with the WDA and other people this might well be a temporary position.

"And we're still hopeful that they might come back in the future."

In a statement the company said: "Laura Ashley Ltd, and its subsidiary Texplan Manufacturing Ltd, has announced the outcome of a review of operating costs at its sites in Newtown and Carno.

"As a result of this review, the companies have announced proposals to make 80-90 redundancies at these sites over the next 4-5 weeks, subject to a period of consultation with those employees who are potentially affected by the proposals.

Laura Ashley
Laura Ashley died in 1985, at the age of 60
"The review is part of a cost reduction programme which has been in place over the past 18 months to improve Laura Ashley's financial performance amidst challenging conditions in the retail marketplace," it concluded.

The firm has been facing financial difficulties.

In September 2003 the group agreed to sell 11 branches across Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg to Dutch firm Laben Holdings.

Laben also signed a renewable four-year franchise agreement with Laura Ashley to operate the branches, most of which are in Holland.

A company spokesman said at the time that all 930 jobs at its accounts centre in Carno and its Texplan plant in Newtown would not be hit.

"Jobs at Carno and Newtown will not be affected by this change," he said.

But in April this year the company reported full-year profits of 3.1m against a 4.9m loss in 2003.

Like-for-like sales of home furnishings went up by 9% on the year, although clothing sales slipped 1.9%.


SEE ALSO:
Store fined over flammable fabric
07 Sep 04  |  Gloucestershire
New label for Laura Ashley heir
07 Jun 04  |  Wales
Laura Ashley moves back to profit
22 Apr 04  |  Business


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