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Laura Ashley closing all stores this month

Laura Ashley is closing its doors for good in Australia, after a buyer failed to materialise during the administration process, despite several expressions of interest.

The fashion and homewares retailer will close 16 stores in all states and the ACT by the end of this month, and 100 employees will be out of a job. The retailer closed its online store and a store in Brisbane after entering voluntary administration on December 3.

Administrator Craig Shepard of KordaMentha Restructuring said the focus is now on an orderly closure of the remaining stores over the next two weeks. All stock will be priced to clear.

“Laura Ashley customers are invited to shop for a Christmas bargain. We thank all the loyal staff for their support of the brand during the Administration,” Shepard said.

Hard times

Laura Ashley was founded in England more than 60 years ago by Laura and Bernard Ashley, who started printing fabric on their kitchen table after visiting a craft exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

They were inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s headscarves in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, and began producing scarves, then tea towels and placemats, before expanding into new categories.

The business launched in Australia more than 35 years ago. At its peak, Laura Ashley had more than 45 stores Down Under, but recently has struggled. This is the second time the business has gone into administration in as many years.

Shepard said the business has been hurt by the same factors affecting many other fashion retailers – a becalmed retail environment, rising fixed costs and fierce competition from online retailers.

Laura Ashley operates locally under a licence agreement with the UK business, which is not affected by the closure.

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