Four Laura Ashley stores operating in New Zealand have closed, owing creditors $2.3 million. First Retail managing director Chris Wilkinson believes that the brand probably didn’t move enough with the time and trends.
Wilkinson says Laura Ashley is known as a ‘back to the womb’ brand because it is a brand many grew up with, and the shut-down of the New Zealand stores is a sad end to an era.
“I think it lost its proposition and the shops weren’t big enough to be serious in any one area. Typically, Laura Ashley has a wide range but what they chose for the New Zealand market might not have been appropriate,” he says.
Another floral print enthusiast, Cath Kidson, has moved in to the homewares space in a big way, and made a big impact, perhaps taking share off Laura Ashley, he says.
LA (New Zealand) was placed into administration in early June by its sole director Daryl Chait, who was also director of its 38-store Australian parent company.
It appears that the company had been insolvent for a considerable period of time, according to an administrator’s report to the Companies Office filed on June 27.
On appointment, the administrators closed two stores and transferred the remaining stock to the two remaining stores. They traded both stores for a while to reduce stock levels and allow time to engage with the purchaser of the Australian francise.
Unfortunately, a sale of the business was not feasible and the license to operate “Laura Ashley” was revoked by Laura Ashley UK.
Laura Ashley was incorporated in New Zealand 20 years ago. The company had four stores, two in Auckland and two in Christchurch.