In the past year or so, there has been a growing trend of retailers expanding into other businesses. These tend to be high-profile brands, with homeware giant IKEA just one example of a retail chain which is now testing the waters of the hotel industry.
Now British chain Laura Ashley has made the leap from retail to leisure by opening its own branded hotel. Laura Ashley The Manor, in Elstree, boasts 49 bedrooms costing up to £500 per night for guests seeking a luxurious country getaway.
The retailer purchased the property last year from Corus Hotels in a deal worth £5.8 million. However, this initial acquisition was followed by a six month renovation period, the financial details of which have not been disclosed by Laura Ashley.
Industry experts believe that this bold move is an attempt to create a “living catalogue” showcasing the best the brand has to offer. Each room has, predictably, been kitted out with items designed exclusively by the company in a bid to show guests that the retailer is capable of cultivating a modern and stylish look.
A spokeswoman discussed the thought process behind the decision, saying; “It’s a shining example of Laura Ashley.
“We have our catalogues in every room; it sells the design service and what you can achieve.
“We wanted to showcase the modern Laura Ashley through creating a light and contemporary interior – people don’t realise what we offer.”
While no news of further hotel openings by the mid-price chain has as yet been forthcoming, the success of this venture could see more branded properties open across the country. Furthermore, as Laura Ashley is a popular fixture in many international locations, the possibility of similar schemes in the 28 countries which already have Laura Ashley stores cannot be ruled out.
Should Laura Ashley’s initiative prove successful, there is little doubt that other homeware retailers will follow suit. And with Britain fast becoming a key destination for businesspeople around the world, perhaps injecting a little more variety into the hotel market would not be the worst thing in the world for the country’s tourism industry.
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