Laura Ashley strikes fragrance deal

Laura Ashley, the clothing and furnishing retailer, has struck an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with L'Oreal for the French cosmetics company to develop and sell fragrances, toiletries and skincare products under the Laura Ashley name.

Ann Iverson, Laura Ashley's chief executive (above), said: "It is a perfect partnership and they give us the advantage of worldwide distribution and considerable marketing expertise."

The products will be sold not only in Laura Ashley shops but through drugstores, department stores and French hypermarkets. News of the deal lifted Ashley's shares almost 3 per cent to 215p.