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Accounting watchman hits Laura Ashley’s accountant with a fine

Accounting watchman slams Laura Ashley’s accountant with fine and ban for bungling retailer

Shoddy: Laura Ashley became the first major casualty of the pandemic when she went broke in March 2020

The accounting regulator has fined Laura Ashley’s accountant and suspended him for his botched work for the retailer.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has banned UHY Hacker Young from auditing public companies until at least May 2024.

It hit UHY with a “serious reprimand” and a £217,500 fine over its audit of fashion and home furnishings retailer Laura Ashley before failing. UHY partner Martin Jones was fined £32,625 and barred from auditing public companies for two years.

Laura Ashley became the first major casualty of the pandemic when she went broke in March 2020.

At that time it had 155 stores in the UK and 2,700 employees. Before the collapse, annual losses increased tenfold from £1.4m to £14m in the year to June 2019. However, the annual report raised no concerns about its ability to stay in business.

The FRC said UHY and Jones had admitted “serious breaches” of their requirement to ensure reports were accurate.

Deputy Executive Counsel Jamie Symington said the auditors had not “appropriately challenged or investigated” Laura Ashley’s claims that she would remain in business for the foreseeable future.

UHY said, “Audit quality is a key focus and priority for UHY Hacker Young, but we recognize that the audits related to Laura Ashley Holdings for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 fell short of the high standards that we have set for ourselves. ”

It said the collapse was caused by the pandemic.

Laura Ashley was founded in 1953 by the fashion designer of the same name and her husband Bernard and has grown into a global brand. Celebrity fans included Princess Diana, who wore it in the 1980s.

It was taken out of management by restructuring and investment firm Gordon Brothers and has returned to the High Street through a deal with Next, which sells its homewares in more than 500 stores.

Laura Ashley also has 48 stores in the UK and is sold online.

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Accounting watchman hits Laura Ashley’s accountant with a fine

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