When Tan Sri Dr KP Khoo, Chairman of the MUI Group, a Malaysian conglomerate, saw that Laura Ashley was under financial strain, he thought the British company was worth saving. Download the PDF
For easy printing you can download the PDF version of this case study. If you do not have Adobe Reader you can download a free copy. Laura Ashley fashion and home furnishings are popular all over the world. The company has come a long way since Laura and Bernard Ashley started printing fabric on their kitchen table in London in 1953. The couple’s £10 investment for a screen, dyes and some linen was a humble start to the company. Twenty years later in the 1970s, its overall sales had grown to £300,000 through their shops in the UK and licensing operations as far afield as Australia, Canada, the US and Japan. Fast facts
Company: The MUI Group/ Laura Ashley
Industry: Retail & Distribution
The company continued to flourish throughout the 1980s. Whilst the UK market remained strong, the 1990s brought financial troubles to the company that largely arose from their operations in the United States. By 1998, the company was heading towards insolvency. That’s when the MUI Group stepped in. “MUI has a reputation for buying ailing companies and turning them around,” says Lillian Tan, Chief Executive of Laura Ashley. “It’s a diversified group with international business in retailing, food, hotels, property, travel & tourism, stock-broking and insurance. Since Malaysia is part of the Commonwealth, the UK was a natural place for MUI to expand its operations. The two countries share similar education, legal, financial and regulatory systems, and there’s no language barrier. And crucially, the UK also has flexible rules and regulations that make it easy for foreign companies to operate here.” Acquisition
In the late 1990s, MUI Chairman Tan Sri Dr KP Khoo was looking for an international brand...