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- Dubai Mall, Dubai, UAE
Laura Ashley Dubai Mall – Laura Ashley, one of the world’s best-loved fashion and home furnishings companies. We use prints and design that evoke the alluring beauty of the English countryside, for the way you live today.
Laura and Bernard Ashley started printing fabric on their kitchen table in London in 1953, following a Women’s Institute exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum on traditional handicrafts. Laura was inspired to make her own patchwork quilts, but couldn’t find any suitable fabrics in the shops, so the young enterprising couple decided to try producing their own. A £10 investment in wood for a screen, dyes and some linen, along with many trips to libraries to learn everything about fabric printing, kick started their fledgling attempts. At first they produced small squares with geometric patterns, which reflected the limited space in their tiny flat.
Around this time the film Roman Holiday was released,Laura and Bernard Ashley started printing fabric on their kitchen table in London in 1953, following a Women’s Institute exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum on traditional handicrafts. Laura was inspired to make her own patchwork quilts, but couldn’t find any suitable fabrics in the shops, so the young enterprising couple decided to try producing their own.
A £10 investment in wood for a screen, dyes and some linen, along with many trips to libraries to learn everything about fabric printing, kick started their fledgling attempts. At first they produced small squares with geometric patterns, which reflected the limited space in their tiny flat. Around this time the film Roman Holiday was released,company should be changed to Laura Ashley, to reflect better their products that had become so popular. The Ashleys moved from London to rural Kent in 1955, allowing more space to print and develop the company, but the whole operation was nearly wiped out in 1958, when the river Darent overflowed and flooded the house, ruining printing equipment, fabrics and dyes. They opened a showroom in London in 1958, which showcased the breadth of the collections they were now producing, from small domestic items to large scale single panel printed textiles which were used by companies such as P&O.
By 1970, sales had reached £300,000. More shops had opened too, with the Fulham Road branch which opened this year selling 4000 dresses in one week alone! Licensing operations brought about the opening of department store concessions in Australia, Canada and Japan in 1971, while further shops opened in Paris and San Francisco in 1974, and UK shop openings continued with a vengeance. By 1975 the company had grown faster than anyone could have predicted – over 40 shops had opened, turnover had increased to £5 million per year, and the company now employed 1,000 people worldwide.
A Queen’s Award for Export was given to the company in 1977, and turnover reached £25 million in 1979 as the company celebrated its 25th anniversary by launching a new range of perfumes. By the end of the 1970’s the company had expanded significantly from its fledgling beginnings, and there were over 70 Laura Ashley shops worldwide. In 1979, Laura and Bernard moved from Wales to northern France, which would be another huge influence on Laura, and the style of new products from then on took on a grander, more country house look.
Inspired by her new surroundings, Laura began to shift her attention from fashion to the home furnishings side of the business, with the first full home furnishings catalogue appearing in 1981. The ‘Decorator Collection’ launched in 1982, with more radical designs and prints aimed at the interior design market. The Laura Ashley Book of Home Decorating was published in 1983 as a result of the interest in the Laura Ashley ‘style’ that was developing. 1985 saw further expansion with the opening of the first shop in Japan, in Tokyo. Tragedy struck however in 1985, when Laura died as a result of a fall down some stairs while visiting her children.
The business felt her loss profoundly, but her strong values and design ethos remain with the company. The enthusiasm and affection felt for the company was demonstrated two months after Laura’s death, when a planned public floatation of Laura Ashley Holdings plc was 34 times oversubscribed. Bernard Ashley was knighted in the late 1980’s, which also saw the launch of the ‘Mother and Child’ collection, and the Laura Ashley Home collection, an exclusive new range of home furnishings. The ‘Chatsworth House Collection’ was launched in 1987 as a result of a visit Laura made to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire in 1985, just one of many inspirational trips she made which informed the style and direction of the home furnishings collection. By the end of the decade, the company had 450 shops worldwide.
The Laura Ashley website www.lauraashley.com went live in October 2001, bringing a while new shopping experience to Laura Ashley customers. The company received the European Mail Order Days Award in 2003 in recognition of sales growth and quality of catalogues. In 2005 the company moved its production operations on to one site in Newtown, Powys, where it currently produces paint, wallpaper and made to measure curtains. The company has growing franchise operations all over the world, including the Far East, Australia, Scandinavia and South America, as well as increasing numbers of licensing projects for products including carpets, eyewear, towels and tiles.
About Dubai Mall
Welcoming more than 80 million visitors in 2014 alone, The Dubai Mall truly has its finger on the pulse of The Centre of Now. From its location in the heart of Downtown Dubai, the world’s largest and most-visited retail and entertainment destination boasts a total internal floor area of 5.9 million sq ft. With 3.77 million sq ft of gross leasable space, more than 1,200 retail outlets (including two anchor department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s) and 200+ food and beverage outlets, The Dubai Mall offers an unparalleled retail mix combined with world-class dining, entertainment and leisure attractions.