Laura Ashley to close 70 branches TODAY with 721 jobs at risk as it attempts to save failing retailer

LAURA Ashley has announced it's closing 70 branches today, putting 721 jobs at the clothing and furnishing retailer at risk.

It comes after the company collapsed into administration earlier this month after struggling with tough high street conditions.

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Laura Ashley had previously said it needed a £15million cash injection to continue trading.

The retailer said immediate sales had been impacted by the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, despite positive figures during the seven weeks to March 13.

Trading had been up 24 per cent on the same period a year earlier.

Advisers from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have been called in to oversee the administration process and attempt to find a buyer for the retailer.

Trouble on the high street recently

LAURA Ashley isn't the only retailer to have struggled recently.

In 2019 and so far in 2020 we've also seen:

  • Debenhams axe 22 of its 50 branches
  • Forever21 close 350 stores with its UK branches also at risk
  • Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Italian" chain go bust, alongside his Fifteen and Barbecoa restaurants
  • Links of London go into administration putting 350 jobs at risk
  • Marks and Spencer close 35 more stores as it pushes forward with plans to axe 145 shops across the UK
  • Dozens of Monsoon and Accessorize stores close
  • While struggling shoe shop Office has said it "could close shops" as part of restructuring plans
  • Fears Pizza Express could be next to go into administration as it "brings in emergency advisers"
  • Hairdressing chain Supercuts went into administration in October putting 1,200 jobs and 220 salons at risk
  • Maternity and baby retailer Mothercare collapsed into administration in November after 58 years on the high street, putting 2,500 jobs at risk
  • Department store chain Beales went into administration in January 2020 with 23 shops and 1,052 jobs at risk
  • High end fashion brand Ted Baker said it plans to axe 160 jobs in February
  • Mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehose said in March that it'll close all 531 standalone stores in April

The chain says shoppers will still be able to order online from the Laura Ashley website as normal.

Katharine Poulter, CEO of Laura Ashley, said in a statement today: "I remain unwavering in my belief that Laura Ashley can and should retain the place it deserves in the international retail landscape.

"Unfortunately, we will lose some brilliant people through no fault of their own.

"However, I remain hopeful there is a buyer out there who shares my vision and can see the enormous potential of this iconic British brand that is known and loved around the world."

Laura Ashley couldn't give The Sun a full list of shops that are set to close when we asked them.

We're checking what the closures mean for shop workers and we'll update this article when we know more.

Laura Ashley has 147 stores in the UK, meaning the latest closures will take it down to 77 shops.

The firm was previously forced to close 40 stores across the UK in December 2018.

Laura Ashley follows other high street casualties including Beales which went into administration in January.

In November, Mothercare collapsed into administration after 58 years on the high street.

Carphone Warehouse also announced it will close all of its 531 standalone stores, in a move that will lead to 2,900 job losses.

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