QUESTIONS have been raised about the future of Laura Ashley.

The firm, which has been a major employer in Montgomeryshire for almost 60 years, faces an uncertain future after entering administration and announcing a raft of store closures and job losses.

Wales' First Minister Professor Mark Drakeford was quizzed on the issue by Montgomeryshire Assembly Member, Russell George.

The AM was one of the few politicians attending this weeks ‘reduced assembly’ session. Political parties had agreed to nominate a small number of AM’s to attend, in order to just be above the legal requirement for Emergency legislation to be passed amid the Coronavirus crisis.

After raising the issue with the First Minister in the Senedd on Tuesday (March 24), Mr George said: “Business in the Assembly was amended, so that only the most pressing issues of dealing with the consequences of the Coronavirus could be discussed and voted on.

"There was a requirement that at least 10 AMs had to be in attendance to vote on Emergency legislation. But clearly, this is such an important issue for our area, this issue needed to be raised with the First Minister of Wales

"Laura Ashley has literally been part of the furniture of Montgomeryshire and been an integral part of the Mid Wales economy for the best part of 60 years. News that a company of the size and importance of Laura Ashley to our local community has gone into administration would normally be headline news.

"This news has been somewhat overshadowed by the unprecedented circumstances we all find ourselves in during this Coronavirus outbreak."

Mr George added: "Nevertheless, many families in Newtown and the surrounding area have a family connection or are still employed by Laura Ashley.

"And I have called on the First Minister and Welsh Government to offer support in finding an alternative buyer and the requisite level of funding to support the company's staff who would be adversely affected by the company's closure during a time of great uncertainty.

"I'm pleased that the First Minister joined me in expressing disappointment and offered his concern for the employees of Laura Ashley and that he confirmed that the Welsh Government would be closely involved in finding a viable solution, and would support any new business with the view of keeping the operation in Newtown."