Laura Ashley's shares have slumped by 10% on the news that the retailer's business has been falling away this year.

Laura Ashley sees 2011 sales slide

Laura Ashley’s shares have slumped by 10% on the news that the retailer’s business has been falling away this year.

Laura Ashley sees 2011 sales slide

The fashion and homewares chain today reported a strong performance in the year to January 29 2011, with pre-tax profit almost doubling from £10.1m last year to £19.3m, and revenue growing 6.2% to £285m.

However, the company alarmed the City by also revealing that its like-for-like UK retail sales for the eight weeks to March 26 had fallen by 4.2%.

“There has been a decline in performance since the beginning of February, which we attribute to a general weakening in the consumer economy,” the company said.

Commentators say that with Mothercare today announcing a similar slowdown in business, electricals group Dixons yesterday issuing a profit warning, and other major retailers such as DFS and Argos owner Home Retail Group finding the going tough, the news from Laura Ashley is further evidence of consumers cutting back in the high street.

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