Laura Ashley will return to UK high streets in partnership with Next after it was the pandemic’s first high-profile casualty
- All 123 UK stores, Welsh factory and its website closed in July costing 1,600 jobs
- The rebirth will begin at the Next shop in Westfield White City, in West London
- First items on sale will be upholstered furniture, candles and nursery goods
When Laura Ashley went into administration this year it looked like a sorry end for one of Britain’s best known retail brands nearly 70 years after it was created by its eponymous founder.
But the fashion-to-furnishings retailer, known for its floral wallpaper and patterned dresses, is to rise from the ashes in a partnership with High Street chain Next.
The firm was the pandemic’s first high-profile casualty when it collapsed after failing to secure rescue funds, forcing the closure in July of all 123 UK stores, its Welsh factory and its website, costing more than 1,600 jobs.
Now the brand, which is owned by a US investment firm, will relaunch in spring with shops within Next stores and a website run by Next.
When Laura Ashley went into administration this year it looked like a sorry end for one of Britain’s best known retail brands (file photo)
The label’s British rebirth will begin at the Next shop in Westfield White City, in West London, before rolling out to 40 stores next year.
Display rooms will showcase Laura Ashley products, with the first items on sale expected to be upholstered furniture, candles and nursery goods.
Its trademark wallpaper and paints are set to follow.
Poppy Marshall-Lawton, head of brand and partnerships at Laura Ashley, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Next’s online store is extremely popular with women in Britain and that’s our core market.
‘It also has some of the fastest and most convenient customer service options, which was an attraction of working with them.
‘We’re confident that with Laura Ashley reborn through Next stores and online we can bring customers the products they’ve been clamouring for on social media.’
Laura and Bernard Ashley entered the trade from their kitchen table in 1953, hand-printing fabric in their tiny Pimlico flat.
Now the brand, which is owned by a US investment firm, will relaunch in spring with shops within Next stores and a website run by Next (file photo)
They built the company into a national chain before her death in 1985 from a brain haemorrhage following a fall down the stairs at her daughter’s home just days after her 60th birthday.
Ms Marshall-Lawton said the firm was ‘careful to look after the brand and its heritage’, adding: ‘In everything we do we think carefully about what Laura Ashley herself would have wanted it to be.
‘Where our brand is available through other retailers they have quotes from Laura on the walls, so we’re mindful and proud of what she created.’
Today, its goods are sold across the world at franchised stores in places such as South Korea, Spain and Ukraine. The brand also has two hotels and six tea rooms.