- Beleaguered fashion and homewares retailer Laura Ashley said it had been forced into talks with lender Wells Fargo and majority shareholder MUI Asia as its sales continued to slide.

Sales for the six months through December had sunk 11% to £109.6m, which the company pinned on 'market headwinds and weaker consumer spending during the period'.

The tough conditions had led to a decline in sales of bigger ticket items, the company added.

Laura Ashley said it was discussing arrangements with Wells Fargo and MUI Asia that would give it sufficient capital to meet its immediate funding requirements, and draw down additional amounts for ongoing working capital.

However, it added: "If the group remains unable to access the requisite level of funding, then the company will need to consider all appropriate options.'

Laura Ashley said it was well advanced in its turnaround strategy, which had shown encouraging early signs: sales were flat in the first seven weeks of trading this year.

'We acknowledge that recent trading conditions, in line with the overall UK retail market, have indeed been challenging,' chairman Andrew Khoo said.

'There is however a robust plan in place to turn the business around.'

'The major shareholders have indicated their continued confidence in the business and are fully supportive of the management team and execution of the transformation plan.'

At 1:38pm: [LON:ALY] Ashley Laura Holdings PLC share price was -1.1p at 2.15p

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