Next strikes another brand deal to bring Laura Ashley back to high street
The Laura Ashley banner is set to return to the UK high street next year in a surprise new partnership with retail giant Next. But before its fashion followers raise a cheer, the deal doesn’t include the brand’s clothing.
Next will resurrect Laura Ashely’s homeware products and prints via its UK stores and website from next spring. There will also be Laura Ashley-branded standalone stores in the UK, with a flagship planned for the Westfield shopping centre in West London.
Laura Ashely went into administration in March as the Covid-19 pandemic struck a major blow to the already-struggling business. All the brand’s 70 stores were permanently closed in the spring.
However, investment firm Gordon Brothers acquired Laura Ashley out of administration in a deal that included its global brand, archives and related intellectual property.
The Gordon Brothers partnership with Next is a major boost for 67-year-old heritage brand that will see a British team of Laura Ashley designers "continuing to fly the flag for the brand", a spokesman said.
However, the exclusion of the brand’s fashion offer will be a disappointed for its fans. Clothing sales were showing signs of improvement following a few tough years as its interiors and home furnishings ops maintained their appeal.
Next’s chief executive Lord Wolfson said: “We believe the combination of the design vision of the Laura Ashley team alongside Next’s online and retail infrastructure can combine to revitalise this world-class brand”.
Poppy Marshall-Lawton, head of brand and partnerships at Laura Ashley, added: ”Laura Ashley herself was always inspired by the past but excited about the future, so getting the chance to reinvigorate the brand is a perfect new chapter in our already fabulous story”.
The deal is a further sign of Next's ambitious plans to grow its retail ops. These have recently included it acquiring the Victoria's Secret business in the UK and the opening of its premium beauty chain.
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