Jan 31, 2020
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Laura Ashley CEO to step down, Poulter to take over

Jan 31, 2020

Laura Ashley shares fell as much as 8.7% on Friday after the company said Katharine Poulter is becoming its new CEO, replacing Kwan Cheong Ng, who is retiring. The change is effective on 1 May.

Laura Ashley

Kwan Cheong Ng will remain on the board as a non-executive director. His long-standing career at Laura Ashley has not been without its setbacks, resigning as CEO in 2003 after a set of weak results, to return in the same capacity in 2012. 

Under his leadership, Laura Ashley has undergone periods of progress but also distress. Controlled by the MUI Group of Malaysia, the brand, once beloved for its floral dresses and prints, reported a £14m loss last year.

Katharine Poulter, the new CEO, is being promoted from her current role as chief operating officer. She has 25 years of retail experience with companies including Marks & Spencer, Home Retail Group, Kingfisher, Tesco and Wilko.

Her new role will not be a walk in the park, as Poulter will have to contend with the company’s declining reputation and falling share price. The stock has fallen by 16.3% over the past 12 months, and nearly 99% since its peak in 1996. That said, its smaller fashion ops have been a stronger performer than its interiors business in recent periods.

Shares in the company were trading a 2p on Friday morning.

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