Hobbs is a contemporary women’s fashion brand operating at the premium end of the high street with collections covering clothing, footwear and accessories.

Hobbs has been owned by South African retail giant, The Foschini Group (TFG), which also owns Phase Eight and Whistles, since November 2017.

Hobbs had successfully completed a three-year turnaround programme under former chief executive Meg Lustman, but has been headed up by former Whistles boss Justin Hampshire from the beginning of 2019 following Lustman’s departure. Hampshire has since been promoted to chief executive of the TFG group.

As part of the turnaround programme, the brand was refocused on its core middle-aged demographic, with accelerated international growth based on its strong British heritage and a big focus on multichannel. Personalisation has been set as a key focus going forward, with investment in mobile also being increased.

Dedicated websites have been launched for Germany, Australia and the US, with a physical presence also starting to be built up in key markets, mainly through concessions.

Following the closure of underperforming stores as part of the turnaround, the domestic network had started to expand again, focusing on new stores in key locations as well as concessions. However, the store estate contracted over the latest challenging pandemic-impacted 2020 financial year.

Hobbs total sales more than halved to £65.1m in the financial year ended 27 March 2021, with the retailer swinging into the red at both pre-tax and operating levels.

Innovation rating: 2

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