Retailer Laura Ashley collapses over coronavirus turmoil

LONDON: Long-struggling clothing and household goods retailer Laura Ashley Holdings collapsed into near bankruptcy Tuesday as refinancing talks failed on coronavirus turmoil, risking 2,700 jobs.

The company said “increased uncertainty” arising from the Covid-19 outbreak meant it was unable to secure necessary funds from stakeholders.

In a statement, Laura Ashley said it had hired advisers from financial services firm PwC to oversee administration – the process whereby a troubled company calls in outside expertise to try and minimise job losses.

Despite some recent poor trading, the retailer said it had experienced rising sales in recent weeks.

“The Covid-19 outbreak has had an immediate and significant impact on trading, and ongoing developments indicate that this will be a sustained national situation,” said the company, whose shares have been suspended.

The British company is controlled by Malaysia’s MUI Group.